What Constitutes Assault Against A Officer?

Assault against an officer in Pennsylvania is a serious crime and can result in years in prison. Assaulting a police officer can transform what might otherwise be a misdemeanor simple assault into an aggravated felony assault and is considered to be a crime of violence.

If you are facing charges of assaulting an officer in Pennsylvania, you should retain a criminal defense lawyer who has experience with handling violent crimes cases.

An attorney at DiCindio Law can discuss the penalties you might face if convicted and help to build a strong defense to fight your charges.

What Constitutes Assault Against An Officer?

Assault against an officer is a type of aggravated assault that is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702. While this statute includes a number of other types of aggravated assault, assaulting an officer is found in subsections (2) and (3).

Under 2702(2), you can be charged with aggravated assault on an officer if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause an enumerated officer, employee, or agent to suffer serious bodily injuries while they are performing their duties.

This means that you could be charged with a felony assault on an officer even if you only attempted to seriously injure him or her but were unsuccessful.

You can also be charged with aggravated assault on an officer under § 2702(c). Under this subsection, you can be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause an enumerated officer, employee, or agent to suffer bodily injuries while they are performing their duties.

This subsection differs from (2) because you can be charged under (3) if you only cause bodily injury or attempt to do so without the resulting or intended injuries having to be serious.

Important Definitions

Bodily injury and serious bodily injury are defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2301. A bodily injury includes anything that impairs a person’s physical condition or causes him or her to suffer substantial pain.

For example, scratches or bruises might be considered to be bodily injuries under this definition. However, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held in Commonwealth v. Wertelet, 696 A. 2d 206 (Pa.Super.1997) that bodily injury to an officer must be something more than minor discomfort or pain.

In that case, a woman’s conviction for aggravated assault on a police officer was reversed when she had kicked an officer three times in the shin.

Serious bodily injuries are those that have a significant risk of death, cause permanent and serious disfigurement, or result in a prolonged loss or impairment of the function of an organ or body part.

Examples of injuries that would qualify as serious bodily injuries include things like broken bones, internal organ damage, gunshot wounds, and others. Knowingly, intentionally, and recklessly are elements of mental culpability and are defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 302.

A person knowingly commits an offense when he or she is aware of what he or she is doing and the likely consequences of his or her actions. A person acts recklessly when he or she acts without regard to the likely risks to others.

Finally, a person acts intentionally when he or she acts with the intent to cause specific harm to another.

Penalties For Assaulting A Police Officer

Aggravated assault against an officer under § 2702(2), including knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing or attempting to cause an officer’s serious bodily injuries is a Class 1 felony.

If you are convicted of this offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • First-degree felony on your permanent criminal record
  • Prison from 10 to 20 years
  • Fine of up to $25,000

If you are convicted of knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly attempting to cause or causing an on-duty officer to suffer bodily injuries, you will face the following penalties:

  • Second-degree felony on your permanent criminal record
  • Prison from five to 10 years
  • Fine of up to $25,000

Collateral Consequences Of A Conviction For Assaulting An Officer

If you are convicted of assaulting a police officer, you might suffer collateral consequences in your life even after you have completed your prison sentence and have paid off your fines.

People who have felony convictions lose their rights to possess or own firearms and cannot serve on juries. If you are convicted of a felony, you might also have problems finding employment and might be denied housing.

Serving a prison sentence can cause people to lose their relationships and have trouble forming relationships with new partners.

Potential Defenses To Assault On A Police Officer

While the assault on a police officer is a serious offense, you might still have some defenses available to you. Your defense attorney will carefully review the reports and evidence in your case, including the police reports, body cam video, surveillance video, witness statements, and more.

A careful analysis of the evidence can help your lawyer to identify issues with the prosecutor’s case.

Some examples of defenses that might be available include the following:

  • Officer was off-duty and not acting within the scope and course of his or her employment
  • Lack of mental culpability/accidental contact
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Injuries not sufficient to support aggravated assault charge
  • Officer or witness not credible

Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.

DiCindio Law, LLC

29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535