The differences between simple and aggravated assault in Pennsylvania include that simple assault is a misdemeanor and aggravated assault is a felony. Physically assaulting someone in Pennsylvania can result in charges of simple or aggravated assault.
Which charge you face depends on whether the injury intended or caused was a “bodily injury” or if it was a “serious bodily injury.” A criminal defense attorney from our firm can help if you are facing assault charges.
What Is Simple Assault?
Simple assault generally causes less harm than aggravated assault. Injuries are usually less serious and non-life threatening. However, Pennsylvania courts still take this offense seriously.
Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701(a), a person can face simple assault charges under four circumstances, including:
- Attempting to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person
- Using a deadly weapon to negligently cause bodily injury
- Being physically menacing to make another person fear bodily injury
- Concealing and using a hypodermic needle to harm a law enforcement officer or correctional officer during an arrest or search
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
What Is Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault generally causes more harm than simple assault and the injuries are serious and even life-threatening. Unlike simple assault, the statute defining aggravated assault in Pennsylvania under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702(a) lists several circumstances in which such charges apply, including:
- Attempting to cause serious bodily injury to another person with extreme indifference to the value of human life
- Attempting to cause serious bodily injury to first responders, government officials, educators, health care workers, and officers of the court.
- Attempting to intentionally or knowingly cause serious bodily injury using a deadly weapon
- Attempting to threaten or intimidate a person to make them fear serious bodily injury
- Using tear gas, noxious gas, or an electrical device to cause serious bodily harm
- Recklessly or intentionally causing serious bodily injury to a child under 6 years old
- Recklessly or intentionally causing serious bodily injury to a child under 13 years old
We can help you understand your simple or aggravated assault charges and we can represent you in court.
Simple vs. Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania: the Differences in Penalties
There are clear differences between simple and aggravated assault since one is a misdemeanor and the other is a felony.
Simple Assault Penalties
Simple assault is the lesser of the two charges but the penalties still vary depending on the circumstances of the assault. For instance, simple assault is generally a second-degree misdemeanor and you can face up to two years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
However, if the simple assault charge stems from a fight that both parties mutually entered, it’s bumped down to a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
The simple assault charge is a first-degree misdemeanor if the victim is a minor under the age of 12, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated Assault Penalties
As a more serious offense, aggravated assault comes with more severe penalties. It is generally a first or second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or up to a $25,000 fine, while a first-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or up to a $25,000 fine.
In addition to criminal penalties, a person could also face civil penalties if the victim elects to file a lawsuit seeking damages.
We will thoroughly explain the seriousness of your charges to you and what penalties you may be facing. Facing possible prison time and financial ruin is scary and stressful, but a criminal defense lawyer from our firm can guide you through the process and act as an advocate on your behalf every step of the way.
What Kind of Defenses Can Our Lawyer Use To Fight Your Assault Charges?
Depending on the details and circumstances of your case, a lawyer from our firm can offer the following defenses against the charges:
- Self-defense: If you were acting in self-defense, you may not be guilty of a crime.
- Mistaken identity: The victim may have misidentified their assailant or the police arrested the wrong suspect.
- Fabrication: The accusations are false because an assault did not occur or someone else committed the crime.
- Credibility: The alleged victim’s credibility is in question.
- Intent: You did not intend to hurt the victim.
Our firm primarily handles criminal defense cases, including simple and aggravated assault. We can build a strong defense by obtaining police reports, witness accounts, expert opinions, video footage, photographs, medical records, and physical evidence such as DNA and fingerprints.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer from Our Firm Can Help You Today
We believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If you face simple or aggravated assault charges, our law firm can help. For a free consultation or to learn more about the differences between simple vs. aggravated assault in Pennsylvania, contact the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC today.