Assault and Aggravated Assault
Assault is a serious offense in Pennsylvania and, if you are convicted, it could mean imprisonment as well as a hefty fine. The actual penalties for assault depend on an interpretation of the seriousness of the assault. If you have been charged with assault, or the more serious charge of aggravated assault, you need to hire an experienced PA defense attorney to help you make sure you get a just verdict. There are many instances where those people who have been charged with assault get more severe penalties than they deserve because they did not get sufficient help from a legal expert.
How is Assault Defined in Pennsylvania?
In some states, there are separate offenses of assault and battery. Assault in these states is a threat to inflict violence on another person, while battery is the actual physical use of force. In Pennsylvania, assault can mean either an intention to use violence on another person or the actual use of violence itself. You can be charged with assault, for instance, in this state, if you threaten to hit another person and are in a position to do so. The same charge will apply if you actually hit that person.
In Pennsylvania, there are two separate charges of assault and aggravated or felony assault. Aggravated assault is the more serious charge and, if convicted, you would face more severe penalties, including a longer period of imprisonment as well as a higher fine. Aggravated assault is used against anyone who either intends or actually uses a much greater degree of violence against someone, causing permanent harm or impairment. It can also be used against anyone who intends to use or uses a deadly weapon such as a knife, a gun or even a broken bottle or stick. The offense also includes violence against certain categories of public employees, including police and firemen as two examples amongst others.
What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?
If you have been charged with assault or aggravated assault it does not automatically mean you are guilty of either offense. It is up to the prosecution to prove beyond doubt that you committed the offense. For an assault charge, for instance, they must be able to prove that you were seriously and knowingly intended to inflict violence on another person or in fact did harm that person. This is where there are grounds for a good defense lawyer to challenge the degree of evidence brought forward by the prosecution and many assault cases have been dismissed because of lack of convincing evidence.
Penalties Imposed for Assault and Aggravated Assault
A simple assault charge is classed as a second degree misdemeanor and, on conviction, will mean a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of $5,000. More serious is an assault against a child younger than 12 by an adult, i.e. anybody older than 21. This is a first degree misdemeanor and will result in a 5 year prison sentence and a fine of $10,000.
Aggravated assault, being a more serious offense, is classed as a felony. Again, there are different penalties depending on the severity of the injuries received by the attacker’s victim. If an attacker intends to use extreme violence against another person, but doesn’t actually injure them, then the offense is considered as a second degree felony and could result in a prison sentence of 10 years as well as a fine of $25,000. If the attack results in serious bodily injury, then the offense is a first degree felony and the penalties will include a 20 year jail term and a fine of $25,000.
If you have been charged with assault you should contact a Pennsylvania defense attorney who will fight aggressively on your behalf to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Learn about Domestic Violence next.