Simple Assault Charges in PA Can Result in Serious Legal Consequences
Assault charges often arise from the most confusing situations – an argument, a fight, or even an accident. The situation unfolded in a blur, and you may not even be clear about what happened. In fact, you may be shocked to discover that you are now facing charges for simple assault. Unfortunately, simple assault charges can be much more serious than many people realize – you should speak with a criminal defense attorney before it’s too late.
Simple Assault as Defined by Pennsylvania Law
When you mention assault, most people think of committing an act of violence on another person. However, assault covers a much broader spectrum of conduct than you might expect. Simple assault is defined under Pennsylvania law as follows:
- An attempt to cause bodily injury to another
- To intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another
- To negligently cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon
- An attempt by “physical menace” to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- To conceal or attempt to conceal a hypodermic needle in order to stab a law officer or corrections officer
In light of the range of serious conduct assault can include, you can understand why people are often unpleasantly surprised to find out they are being charged with assault. There are some important details concerning simple assault charges of which you should be aware.
For example, you can be charged with simple assault even if you didn’t injure the other person. In fact, you can be charged with simple assault even if you had no physical contact with them at all. The mere attempt to cause an injury is sufficient.
Further, you can be charged with simple assault if you had no intention of harming or even touching them. Threatening someone with physical violence is enough to be charged with simple assault.
Alternatively, you can be charged with simple assault if you injured someone accidentally if the prosecution believes that your conduct was reckless. If you injured someone with a “deadly weapon,” mere negligence (a lower standard than recklessness) is sufficient to charge you with simple assault in Pennsylvania.
Examples of Simple Assault
In order to better understand simple assault, it may be helpful to provide some concrete examples where you could be charged with simple assault:
- You swing your fist at another person intending to punch them in the face, but they duck and you miss.
- You get in a bar fight and injured the person you were fighting with.
- In order to display your knife-throwing skills, you throw a knife in a crowded place and accidentally hit another person.
- You tell someone that you are going to beat them senseless while standing over them and clenching your fists.
Of course, the facts in each of these examples will be critical. An experienced Pennsylvania simple assault lawyer can defend you by arguing the facts that are in your favor.
Potential Penalties of a Simple Assault Conviction
Simple assault in Pennsylvania is a second-degree misdemeanor. While a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about your charge. Misdemeanor charges can carry very severe consequences. If convicted of simple assault, you face the following penalties:
- Up to two years in prison
- A fine of up to $5,000
However, there are situations where simple assault is not a second-degree misdemeanor. If you are over the age of 18 and assaulted a child who is 12 years old or younger, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. In that case, you will face the following penalties if convicted:
- Up to five years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
If you are charged with assault as the result of a fight where both parties agreed to the fight, you will be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor. If you are convicted, the penalties are as follows:
- Up to one year in prison
- A fine of up to $2,500
Most people can’t afford to pay several thousands of dollars in fines or even spend a single day in prison – a two-year prison sentence would be devastating. In addition, your conviction would be a matter of public record, which could cause considerable embarrassment for your family and make it difficult to get a job. An experienced Pennsylvania simple assault attorney can help you avoid conviction or at least minimize the damage to your future.
Even though you’ve been charged, there are defenses that can be raised in your favor. A Pennsylvania simple assault defense lawyer can determine which defenses are applicable to your case through a careful analysis of the facts and their knowledge of the law. Here are some defenses that you may be able to argue in order to get the charges dismissed or be acquitted:
- Self-defense. Under Pennsylvania law, you have the right to defend yourself if you believe that you are in imminent danger of harm. However, you cannot use more force than is reasonable under the circumstances and it must be the same degree of force as is being used or threatened against you. For example, you cannot continue to beat your attacker once they are defenseless. Alternatively, you cannot shoot stab your attacker if they are unarmed.
- Provocation defense. You may be able to avoid conviction if you can argue that you were provoked by the other person. In order to successfully raise this defense, you must show that the other person had the “intent of causing death or serious injury.” For example, if they were brandishing a knife and threatening to stab someone, you may justifiably attack that person in an attempt to subdue them or get the knife away from them.
- Lack of evidence. Sometimes assault charges get filed based on the other person’s claim that you assaulted them. If there is no other evidence, you may be able to get the charges dismissed.
Note that each of these defenses depends heavily on the facts in your case, and a single, seemingly irrelevant fact can make a significant difference.
Charged with Simple Assault in Pennsylvania? Contact Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Lauren Wimmer
Even though it’s called “simple” assault, don’t make the mistake that this isn’t a serious charge. If convicted, you face prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. Simple assault defense attorney Lauren Wimmer has the skill, knowledge, and experience that you need to face these charges and get a fair result. If you need someone on your side, call Wimmer Criminal Defense at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help with your simple assault charge.