Any time someone is accused of physically attacking another person, they may face assault charges in the state of Pennsylvania. The severity of the charges they face will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Generally, an alleged assault in Pennsylvania can result in simple assault or aggravated assault charges. If you are facing assault charges, an effective criminal defense strategy can minimize your penalties or get your charges dropped entirely.
In Pennsylvania, simple assault is typically a misdemeanor 2 and can carry a penalty of up to two years in jail and a fine of $5,000. In order to have you convicted of simple assault, a prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injured another person, or negligently injured another person with a deadly weapon. A prosecutor may also get a conviction if they can prove that you used physical menace in an attempt to put someone else in fear of imminent serious harm. In other words, threatening someone with a weapon, injuring someone, or accidentally injuring someone with a deadly weapon could all qualify as simple assault.
Aggravated assault in Pennsylvania is a first or second-degree felony, and the prosecutor will be required to prove a much more serious crime to get an aggravated assault conviction. Generally, a prosecutor must show that the defendant seriously injured someone else and showed an extreme indifference to human life, attempted to threaten a police officer, firefighter, or other law enforcement official, or attempted to intentionally harm a teaching professional while they work at a school. A first-degree felony aggravated assault could result in up to 20 years in jail, while a second-degree aggravated assault could result in up to 10 years in jail.
A criminal defense attorney can help you defend against both simple and aggravated assault charges, and help minimize the penalties you face if convicted.