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How serious are assault charges in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Never underestimate how enthusiastically most prosecutors in the nation perform their duties. Since crimes of violence, including assault, are deemed particularly heinous, you can expect the prosecutor in your case to seek conviction aggressively.

Like many states, Pennsylvania has several laws that fall under the assault offense umbrella. Since you have a right to understand your circumstances before facing the justice system, learn about the specific charge filed against you. Here’s what you should know about the difference between simple and aggravated assault:

Simple assault

This crime occurs when someone intentionally harms another or when they attempt to do so unsuccessfully. In other words, you could face simple assault charges even if you never touched the other person.

Other elements considered in simple assault cases:

  • Negligently harming another with a weapon
  • Causing fear of bodily injury
  • Purposely injecting someone with a substance

Prosecutors typically charge simple assault as a misdemeanor, but a conviction could still lead to jail time.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated charges typically arise due to the degree of harm the other person suffered. For example, if the incident resulted in severe bodily injury, the prosecutor may upgrade your charge to aggravated. 

Additional factors that could lead to aggravated charges include:

  • Use of a weapon
  • Harming an on-duty officer
  • Hurting or attempting to hurt a child
  • Using toxic chemicals or stun devices
  • Injuring or attempting to harm public officials (in addition to law enforcement personnel)

If you’ve been charged in an assault case, don’t assume that you’re without legal options. Whether based on a procedural error or your actual innocence, a sound defense may help you avoid a worst-case outcome.