What Is A Simple Assault?

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.

What is manslaughter

What is manslaughter?


In Pennsylvania, two types of manslaughter are recognized in the law, including voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. While these crimes are criminal homicides, they are less serious than murder charges. If you have been charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, you should talk to Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law to learn about your rights and the defenses that might be raised.

Definition of voluntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania

Voluntary manslaughter is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2503. According to this statute, a defendant is guilty of voluntary manslaughter when he or she kills someone else without legal justification and he or she was acting under the heat of passion that results from serious provocation by the following people:

  • the victim who is killed; or
  • A third person that the defendant tries to kill but accidentally kills the victim instead

A second way in which voluntary manslaughter can be committed is when the defendant kills someone when he or she has an unreasonable belief that the killing is legally justified. To determine whether a killing happened in the heat of passion because of provocation by the victim or a third person, the provoking circumstances will be reviewed objectively. The provoking act must be of such a nature that it would have caused an emotional or passionate reaction in a reasonable person.

If you had time to cool down after the provocation and when you committed the killing, you will not be eligible for a voluntary manslaughter charge and will likely be charged with murder instead. To determine whether you had enough time to calm down between the provoking act and the killing, the state will look at all of the events leading up to the homicide. If enough time passed, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with murder instead.

The unreasonable belief form of voluntary manslaughter refers to a mistaken belief that you needed to use deadly force to protect yourself or someone else from the victim. If the prosecutor can prove that you escalated or created a dangerous situation, the prosecutor may charge you with murder.

Defenses to voluntary manslaughter charges

The defenses that might be raised to voluntary manslaughter charges will depend on the facts and circumstances of how the killing occurred. Some of the defenses might include the following:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Battered women’s syndrome
  • Accidental death with no criminal intent when you were engaged in a lawful action

Penalties for voluntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania

Voluntary manslaughter is a felony in Pennsylvania. If you are convicted of this offense, you can face up to 20 years in prison.

Involuntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania

Involuntary manslaughter is codified at 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504. Unlike other types of criminal homicide in Pennsylvania, involuntary manslaughter does not require that you had an intent to kill the victim. Instead, involuntary manslaughter is reserved for situations in which the killings were unintentional. Involuntary manslaughter is punished by the state to try to prevent activities that are performed with gross negligence or in reckless disregard for human life.

Prosecutors are required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants who are charged with involuntary manslaughter caused the deaths by engaging in grossly negligent or reckless conduct while they were engaging in unlawful or lawful activity. For example, a person may be charged with involuntary manslaughter if he or she recklessly drove a car and caused the death of the victim. The prosecutor must be able to show the link between the defendant’s negligent or reckless conduct and the death of the victim. If the defendant’s conduct cannot be directly or substantially linked to the victim’s death, the prosecutor may not be able to prove a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Gross negligence or reckless disregard can be proven by the prosecutor by using a reasonable person standard. This involves a comparison between the defendant’s actions to the standard of care that would be expected of a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances. The prosecutor may also analyze whether the defendant ignored an existing danger or continued with his or her activity after substantial risks were obvious.

Defenses to involuntary manslaughter charges

Some of the possible defenses to charges of involuntary manslaughter include the following:

  • The defendant’s actions were not a direct or substantial cause of the death of the victim
  • The killing was accidental and occurred while the defendant was engaged in lawful activity and was not acting with criminal intent, gross negligence, or reckless disregard

It is important to note that Pennsylvania does not allow defendants to raise a defense of voluntary intoxication to involuntary manslaughter charges.

Penalties for involuntary manslaughter

Pennsylvania classifies involuntary manslaughter as a first-degree misdemeanor offense in most cases. A conviction for this offense carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

However, if you committed involuntary manslaughter of a child who was younger than age 12 while serving as the child’s custodian, caregiver, or parent, the offense is charged as a second-degree felony. A conviction for felony involuntary manslaughter can include from five to 10 years in prison.

Some examples of activities that can lead to a charge of involuntary manslaughter include the following:

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding or other traffic offenses
  • Child neglect
  • The improper withholding of medical care from a person who dies

Get help from DiCindio Law

If you are facing voluntary or involuntary manslaughter charges, contact DiCindio Law to schedule a free consultation. We can be reached at 610-430-3535 24 hours per day and seven days per week.

Self-Defense in Pennsylvania

Self-Defense in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law when a crime of violence has been alleged a criminal defense attorney must evaluate the circumstances and determine whether or not self-defense would be an available principle of justification and defense in the criminal case. Whether it be a prosecution of simple assault, harassment, aggravated assault, or even a murder or criminal homicide case, self-defense must be evaluated before moving forward with a strategy for legal defense. Under Pennsylvania law the general principle of self-defense is that the use of force towards another is justifiable if the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of force by another person on the pres

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ent occasion. Still, as with any criminal justification defense there are limits to self-defense in Pennsylvania.

For example there is a limit on the level of force that may be reasonably used which becomes a factual determination for  the jury.  There are also limits on the use of deadly force and when it can be used in a justifiable manner. Finally, there are numerous intricate scenarios where the self-defense or use of force in self-protection statute differentiates between the location of the incident.  For example, different rules may apply if someone is acting in self-defense in their home rather than in public.

Putting forth a self-defense justification defense in Pennsylvania is incredibly involved at times and usually based upon the specific circumstances of a given scenario.

If you or a loved one needs representation on any criminal matter – contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. directly.

  • § 505.  Use of force in self-protection.

(a)  Use of force justifiable for protection of the person.–The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.

(b)  Limitations on justifying necessity for use of force.–

(1)  The use of force is not justifiable under this section:

(i)  to resist an arrest which the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, although the arrest is unlawful; or

(ii)  to resist force used by the occupier or possessor of property or by another person on his behalf, where the actor knows that the person using the force is doing so under a claim of right to protect the property, except that this limitation shall not apply if:

(A)  the actor is a public officer acting in the performance of his duties or a person lawfully assisting him therein or a person making or assisting in a lawful arrest;

(B)  the actor has been unlawfully dispossessed of the property and is making a reentry or recaption justified by section 507 of this title (relating to use of force for the protection of property); or

(C)  the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury.

(2)  The use of deadly force is not justifiable under this section unless the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat; nor is it justifiable if:

(i)  the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter; or

(ii)  the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating, except the actor is not obliged to retreat from his dwelling or place of work, unless he was the initial aggressor or is assailed in his place of work by another person whose place of work the actor knows it to be.

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale