Being charged with aggravated assault is a serious crime in Pennsylvania. While the consequences for a person convicted of aggravated assault can differ depending upon the details of the case, penalties range from hefty fines to years of prison time.
If charged with aggravated assault in Pennsylvania, seeking legal counsel is in your best interest. Our Bethlehem, Stroudsburg, and Palmerton attorneys can provide you with more information regarding your rights and how best to pursue a defense strategy. The following provides more information about what constitutes aggravated assault in Pennsylvania and what the consequences may be.
What constitutes aggravated assault in Pennsylvania?
There are two different types of assault charges in the state of Pennsylvania: aggravated assault and simple assault. The latter typically is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and carries penalties of a fine and a prison sentence of up to two years.
Aggravated assault, on the other hand, is a crime classified as either a first-degree or second-degree felony, depending upon the circumstances of the case. According to Pennsylvania law 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. section 2702(a)(1), aggravated assault is defined as an attempt to “cause serious bodily injury to another” or causing injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under “circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” As such, in order to be given a conviction for aggravated assault, it must be proven that the accused acted both knowingly and recklessly.
In order to prove that a person acted knowingly and recklessly in causing serious bodily harm to another person — which is defined under 18. Pa. Cons. Stat. 2301 as injury that causes permanent loss, impairment, disfigurement or creates a risk of death — one thing that will be considered is the use of a deadly weapon, such as a gun or a knife.
Additionally, if the assault took place against a public employee or official, the assault charge immediately will be increase from a simple assault to an aggravated assault in the case that the assault resulted in serious or mere bodily injury of the public employee while he or she performed public duties or if the assault was an attempt to put the public employee in fear of imminent harm.
Punishment for Aggravated Assault
The punishment for aggravated assault is dependent upon the degree of conviction. Aggravated assault may be classified as a felony of the first or second degree. A second-degree aggravated assault conviction, which refers to aggravated assault that did not result in serious bodily injury, is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
However, if the defendant caused serious bodily injury to the victim, then the aggravated assault is considered a first-degree felony. In the case of a first degree felony conviction, the defendant will face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
How an Attorney Can Help
Aggravated assault charges are extremely serious, and if charged with aggravated assault, a conviction can mean years in prison. It’s important to begin building a defense for the charges, which may include gathering evidence, talking to witnesses and more. In order to build your defense, understand your rights and explore your options, seeking the guidance and assistance of a lawyer is in your best interest.