In Pennsylvania, some types of altercations can result in criminal charges for simple assault. A conviction for simple assault can leave you with a criminal record and cause other serious consequences. If you have been charged with simple assault, it is a good idea for you to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. We might be able to help you to secure a more favorable resolution to the charges against you.
What is a simple assault in Pennsylvania?
Simple assault is defined as a crime in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701. Under this law, a simple assault occurs when someone attempts to intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly cause bodily injury to another person. A simple assault may also occur when someone negligently causes bodily injury to someone else with a deadly weapon. This offense is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor in most cases. However, if the simple assault occurs when the person is engaged in mutual combat with the alleged victim, it is a third-degree misdemeanor. If the victim of the simple assault is younger than age 12, and the actor is over the age of 18, it is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Types of acts that can be deemed to be simple assaults
Typically, simple assault is charged following a fight in which you strike someone else. If you are involved in a bar fight and hit someone else, you could be charged with simple assault. A simple assault could also be charged when a person is being patted down by a police officer and fails to disclose that he or she has a used hypodermic needle in his or her pocket, causing the officer to prick his or her finger with it. This scenario could occur when the person has diabetes or when he or she is an intravenous drug user.
Does the alleged victim have to suffer an injury for simple assault charges?
A simple assault does not have to result in an injury to the victim to be filed. Under the law, a simple assault also includes attempts to commit an assault. For example, if you try to hit someone and miss him or her, you can still be charged with attempted simple assault.
Potential penalties for simple assault convictions
The penalties that you might face if you are convicted of simple assault will depend on whether you are charged with first-, second-, or third-degree simple assault. If you are convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor simple assault, you will face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If you are convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor simple assault, you will face up to two years of incarceration and a fine of $5,000. If you are convicted of first-degree misdemeanor simple assault against a victim who is younger than the age of 12, and you are older than age 18, you will face up to five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Simple assault vs. aggravated assault in Pennsylvania
Aggravated assault is a more serious offense than simple assault. Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2702, an aggravated assault occurs when someone attempts to cause a serious bodily injury or an injury while acting with extreme indifference regarding human life. This act requires more than what you might find in a fistfight. When using the bar fight example, an aggravated assault might involve breaking a beer bottle over someone else’s head or smashing his or her head into a concrete pillar. This type of conduct goes beyond intentionally causing injury because it instead is an act that causes severe injury. Aggravated assault is a felony offense in Pennsylvania.
What is an assault with a deadly weapon?
Normally, an assault with a deadly weapon will be charged as an aggravated assault. For example, if you use a bat to hit someone else in the head, you may be charged with aggravated assault. However, some assaults with deadly weapons may be charged as simple assaults. For example, if you hit a person with a bat in the arm, and the person does not suffer serious bodily injury, you may be charged with simple assault.
The phrase “deadly weapon” is used broadly under Pennsylvania law. It can include guns, knives, or anything else that can be used as a deadly weapon such as a bat, tire iron, vehicle, or rock. How the object is used during the incident can transform a simple object into a deadly weapon.
Can assault with a deadly weapon be charged when the victim is uninjured?
The alleged victim does not have to be injured for you to be charged with an attempted assault with a deadly weapon. Your intent will affect the charge that you might face. You might also be charged if your actions were knowing. Under the simple assault statute, you could be charged if your actions were reckless. To be charged with attempted aggravated assault, your actions must also have been extremely indifferent to human life.
Get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney
If you are facing assault charges at either the misdemeanor or felony level, a conviction can cause severe consequences to your life. You may face a lengthy sentenced to jail or prison and substantial fines. Once you have completed your sentence, you might find that it is difficult for you to find a job or to secure housing. You might also have trouble securing credit, loans, professional licenses, or security clearances. Getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law might help you to secure a better outcome in your case. Contact us today to request a free and confidential consultation by calling us at (610) 430-3535 or by filling out our online contact form.