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Aggravated Assault in PA: What You Need to Know


12/21/2020

In Pennsylvania, aggravated assault is a felony offense. Aggravated assault differs from simple assault in a number of ways. Facts that will change a simple assault into an aggravated assault are the seriousness of the injury, the defendant’s intent before and during the injury, the use of a deadly weapon, the age of the victim, and the position of the person injured. 

Aggravated Assault in PA: Charges and Penalties 

A PA, aggravated assault can result in serious consequences. A person is guilty of aggravated assault in PA who:

  • Attempts to cause or causes serious injury, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to officers, agents, employees, etc. named in the statute, such as police officers, court and prison staff, state and federal government officers, and public school employees;
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to the officers listed above in the performance of duty;
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon;
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a school employee or staff member;
  • Uses tear or noxious gas or a taser against an officer listed above while they are acting in the scope of their duty;
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a child under the age of 6; or
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 13. 

Aggravated assault laws in PA can be complex, and the consequences are serious. You should consult with a PA aggravated assault attorney to learn more about aggravated assault in PA.

Serious Bodily Injury 

Aggravated assault most commonly involves serious bodily injury. Who decides whether a bodily injury is serious? The answer is that a number of different people make this determination from the moment charges are filed up through the end of trial or when the case is resolved.

First, the investigating officer decides whether to file the charge as assault or aggravated assault. Next, both the prosecuting attorney and the presiding judge consider whether the bodily injury was serious, i.e., whether the charge should remain aggravated assault or should be downgraded to simple assault. If the case goes to trial, the jury will decide whether the bodily injury was serious enough to warrant an aggravated assault conviction. 

Deadly Weapon 

Assault is often charged as aggravated assault because a deadly weapon, like a gun, was used. If you were charged with assault and the bodily injury caused or attempted was not serious, you may nonetheless be charged with aggravated assault if you used a deadly weapon.

School, Court, and Prison Employees

The investigating officer, prosecuting attorney, or presiding judge may determine that a simple assault should be charged as aggravated assault based on the occupation of the injured person. Protected positions include public and private school employees, state and federal public officials, and court and prison staff. 

 

Potential Penalties 

Pennsylvania aggravated assault is a first or second degree felony. Because of the seriousness of aggravated assault, jail time in PA usually results. 

The potential penalties for second degree aggravated assault in PA are up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The potential penalties for third degree aggravated assault in PA are up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. 

Possible Defenses 

If you were charged with aggravated assault but you feel that your conduct was justified, you may be able to mount a defense. The following defenses may apply:

  • Self-defense,
  • Defense of others,
  • Defense of property, 
  • Lack of intent,
  • Insufficient evidence, and
  • Necessity or duress. 

Your attorney will research the law in accordance with the facts of your case and will argue any and all defenses available to fight your charges. The jury will consider such defenses when deciding the verdict at trial. 

How a Pennsylvania Defense Attorney Can Help 

An aggravated assault conviction has serious consequences. If you were charged with aggravated assault, reach out to Wimmer Criminal Defense as soon as possible. Attorney Lauren A. Wimmer has spent years defending the rights of criminal defendants in Pennsylvania. Our goal is to seek the best result possible for your case. We will fight to have your case dismissed or your charges reduced. Call or contact us today for an initial consultation.