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Pennsylvania Assault Lawyer
An assault in Pennsylvania can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony assault, commonly referred to as aggravated assault, is the infliction of or attempted infliction of serious bodily injury on another. Regardless of the nature of the assault charge, a dedicated Pennsylvania assault lawyer can help a person avoid a conviction if they have been accused of such a crime or if they believe an assault charge is pending.
If an assault involves the use of a deadly weapon or the victim is a public official or law enforcement member, conviction of such an offense can carry strict penalties. Misdemeanor assault, or simple assault, is most often associated with lesser injuries, but can still result in severe legal consequences.
This brief overview can provide enough information to understand why it is essential to hire a qualified Pennsylvania assault attorney who has the experience and knowledge to navigate the often confusing legal system.
What Assault Charges Can Derive From
An assault charge is filed when one person attempts to hurt or hurts another individual. Assaults can also occur in conjunction with other crimes and situations, including:
- Resisting Arrest
- Bar Fights
- Fights at Sporting Events
- Domestic Disputes
Assault can also include causing a victim to fear the possibility of experiencing physical harm. This can include pointing a toy gun at someone or making a fist in a menacing way which the victim interprets as the beginning of a punch. Battery allegations can be made if contact is made regardless of whether there was extensive harm or injury. Examples of situations in which people have been charged with battery can include spitting on a victim or swatting someone during an argument. A Pennsylvania assault lawyer can help build a defense tailored to the case’s fact-specific circumstances.
Assault charges become more serious when a weapon is involved and if the assault took place during the commission of another crime.
Pennsylvania Aggravated Assault Convictions
For a person to be convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecutor must convince the jury that a person acted in one of the following ways:
Knowledge of the danger of the actions
People act knowingly when they are aware of the consequences of their actions. This is often referred to as willful intent;
A person acted recklessly
When people disregard the consequences of their actions, such behavior may be deemed reckless and criminally negligent. A person can be found to have acted recklessly if it is determined that a reasonable person in the same situation would have been aware of the risks associated with the conduct.
Death by Assault
Homicide occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causes the death of another person. In Pennsylvania, a homicide can include voluntary or involuntary manslaughter as well as murder.
- Voluntary Manslaughter is the killing of another person in the heat of passion if one was provoked by that person. Depending on the case, voluntary manslaughter can occur when someone believes killing someone else is justified, even though that belief may actually be unreasonable.
- Involuntary Manslaughter occurs when a person causes the death of another by committing a reckless or grossly negligent act.
- Murder is defined by degrees: first, second, or third. Murder in the first degree is the intentional, premeditated killing of a person. Second degree murder occurs when someone kills another while committing a felony. Murder in the third degree is murder that is not as severe as first and second degree, but more severe than the circumstances that might result in manslaughter.
Punishments for Assault Crimes in Pennsylvania
- First degree murder prison sentences range from life without parole to the death penalty with the possibility of a fine up to $50,000.
- Second degree murder involves life without parole and/or a maximum fine of $50,000.
- Third degree murder is a first degree felony that can result in a prison sentence of up to 40 years and/or a maximum fine of $50,000.
- Voluntary manslaughter is also a first degree felony with a prison sentence of up to 20 years and/or fines up to $25,000.
- Involuntary manslaughter is a first degree misdemeanor and can result in no more than five years in prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
- Aggravated assault can either be a first or second degree felony and result in a 10 to 20 year prison sentence, and/or fines of no more than $25,000.
- Simple assault is either a second or third degree misdemeanor. Though probation is an option for many first offenses, it can result in up to two years in jailand fines that range from $2,500 to $5,000.
A Reputable Pennsylvania Assault Lawyer Can Help
When a person is charged with assault, from a seemingly simple misdemeanor to a serious felony, an experienced Pennsylvania assault attorney can stand by their side and work tirelessly on a person’s behalf. Call for a free consultation.