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Assault vs. Battery in Pennsylvania: What’s the Difference?

The terms assault and battery are often used together in Pennsylvania. While battery is not a separate offense in the state’s criminal law, the statutes covering simple and aggravated assaults incorporate battery. Under the state’s civil tort laws, people can be sued for civil assault or civil battery. However, under the criminal laws, people who commit battery will normally be charged either with simple assault or aggravated assault.

Assault and aggravated assault both involve causing intentional harm to another person. This can include the threat of an imminent physical attack or an actual physical attack. Depending on the seriousness of the incident and whether or not a weapon was used, a person might be charged with felony aggravated assault. If you are facing one of these charges, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law as soon as possible.

What is Simple Assault in Pennsylvania?

Under 18 Pa.C.S.2701, simple assault can be charged in several situations. You can be charged with simple assault if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause injuries to someone else. You can also be charged with simple assault if you negligently injure someone with a deadly weapon. People who threaten others to place them in fear that they will be imminently injured can also be charged with simple assault even if they do not strike them. Finally, people who conceal hypodermic needles and cause a law enforcement officer to injure himself or herself while conducting a patdown search can also be charged with simple assault.

Simple assault is normally a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. However, if the assault occurred while you were engaged in a fight by mutual consent, it is a third-degree misdemeanor. If the victim of the simple assault was a child under the age of 12 while the perpetrator was age 18 or older, it is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Under the state’s tort laws, a civil assault occurs when you engage in an intentional act that causes someone else to believe that he or she will suffer imminent physical harm. A civil assault cause of action does not require the victim to suffer physical harm.

What is Battery?

There is no separate criminal statute for battery. Instead, it is included as a part of the assault statute. Battery is basically a completed civil assault. In other words, someone commits a battery when he or she causes actual physical harm to a victim. For example, if a person threatens to strike a victim with his or her fist and swings and misses, he or she could be charged with a simple assault. If the person actually strikes the victim with his or her fist and causes a bruise, he or she has committed a battery. In Pennsylvania, however, either offense would be charged as a simple assault.

What is Battery?

Simple vs. Aggravated Assault

Pennsylvania’s aggravated assault statute is found at 18 Pa.C.S.2702 Under this statute, you can be charged with aggravated assault in several scenarios. You can be charged with aggravated assault if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause someone else to suffer serious bodily injuries with extreme indifference to human life. You can also be charged with this offense if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause a public official or employee to suffer serious bodily injuries or bodily injuries while they are performing their jobs.

Aggravated assault can also be charged if you cause someone else to suffer bodily injuries with a deadly weapon or if you attempt to cause or cause a teacher or school staff member to suffer bodily injuries because of their employment at the school. You can also be charged with aggravated assault if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause bodily injury to a child under the age of six. Finally, you can face aggravated assault charges if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 13 if you are older than age 18. Aggravated assault is a first- or second-degree felony, depending on the particular subsection of the statute under which you are charged.

Words Are Not Enough

A simple verbal threat will not be enough to support an assault charge. A victim must be placed in imminent fear of immediate bodily injury before an assault can be charged. For example, if a man says, “I’m going to hit you” without moving toward you or trying to do so, an assault has not occurred. This is because many people might make verbal threats that they have no intention of carrying out when they are angry.

Get Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney in Chester County PA

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony assault charges, you should talk to an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney at DiCindio Law can review what happened and help you to understand the potential defenses you might be able to assert. Call us today to schedule a consultation at 610.430.3535.

 

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Michael DiCindio

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