SIMPLE ASSAULT PUNISHMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA
If you are facing simple assault charges in PA, your potential punishment could be substantial. The Pennsylvania code regarding simple assault can be complex to interpret as the potential penalties can vary based on the nature of the charges. For any form of simple assault, however, you face substantial fines and the possibility of jail time, along with a variety of other potential penalties such as court costs. Perhaps the most daunting prospect is the permanent criminal record you will have upon conviction. Your offense will become a part of the public record and accessible to anyone who runs a background check on you, including potential employers, landlords, and others.
If you have been charged with simple assault in PA, or you might be facing such charges, contact a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer at Wimmer Criminal Defense, PC, for help. We provide you with the information you need to make the best possible decision for your case. We will fight relentlessly for your future and your freedom.
How Is Simple Assault Defined Under PA Law?
The Pennsylvania simple assault laws indicate that you may be guilty of this offense if you:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly attempt to cause another person bodily harm;
- Negligently cause another person bodily harm with a weapon; or
- Threaten another person with imminent bodily harm for the purpose of instilling fear.
You could also face these charges if you intentionally hid (or attempted to hide) a hypodermic needle with the intent of using it to penetrate a law enforcement officer, prison guard, or attendant at any detention or mental health facility.
Simple assault typically qualifies as a second-degree misdemeanor. However, the charges could be upgraded or downgraded if certain conditions are met. For example, you could face a less severe third-degree misdemeanor charge if you got into a consensual fight with another person, such as a fistfight.
You could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge if the offense was committed against a minor under the age of 12 and you are age 18 or above. You also face more substantial charges—such as aggravated assault—if the offense was committed against a law enforcement officer, first responder, healthcare practitioner, government employee, parole officer, or private detective, or if it occurred during a domestic dispute.
Can You Go to Jail for a Simple Assault Charge in PA?
If you are convicted, even third-degree simple assault carries the potential for jail time. The penalties for simple assault in PA are:
- Third-degree misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine;
- Second-degree misdemeanor: Up to two years in jail or prison and a $5,000 fine; and
- First-degree misdemeanor: Up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In addition to hefty fines and jail time, you also face a variety of other potential penalties. The court could require you to serve probation, perform community service, or seek counseling for anger management. You will also be responsible for paying court costs and fees. Finally, a PA assault conviction will leave you with a permanent criminal record, which can interfere with your ability to get a job, get into college, rent a home, or hold a professional license.
Can a Pennsylvania Simple Assault Charge Be Expunged from Your Record?
This offense cannot typically be expunged from your criminal record before you reach the age of 70. The only other way to clear an assault conviction from your criminal record is to request—and be granted—a pardon from the Pennsylvania governor.
For this reason, it may be in your best interest to do whatever it takes to avoid a simple assault conviction.
What Is the Average Jail Sentence for Simple Assault in PA?
Upon conviction for simple assault in PA, the average sentence ranges from no jail time to the maximum possible term. Therefore, the many factors that the court must consider when assessing a potential punishment for assault directly affect the duration of your sentence.
Talking to a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia will give you a better idea about the potential sentence you might be facing. An attorney can also explain your options for potentially getting the charges reduced or dismissed.
The police and prosecutors will fight to get a conviction whenever possible. The police may miss or overlook critical evidence that could help in crafting your defense. They might offer you a plea bargain in exchange for your guilty plea, but you will still be subject to many of the same punishments, including a permanent criminal record.
Your attorney will likely have a variety of potential defense strategies they can use for an assault charge. Some of the most common include self-defense or the defense of another individual, which is available if you were provoked by another party. If the victim sustained their injuries by accident, that would also play a role in your attorney’s strategy.
Another potential approach to building an assault defense involves arguing that your legal rights were violated by the police. For example, if your attorney believes that the evidence in your case was mishandled, he or she may seek to have the evidence declared inadmissible in court.
Also, depending on your criminal history, you may be eligible to participate in an alternative rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program. Talk to a PA assault lawyer to learn more about whether ARD might be a good option for you.
Contact a PA Criminal Defense Attorney Now for Help
Before you provide a statement or discuss any potential plea agreement for PA simple assault charges, talk to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer to explore your options.
Attorney Lauren Wimmer of Wimmer Criminal Defense can provide you with the answers and information you need right now. My goal is always to get your charges dismissed or, if possible, reduced to a lesser offense. However, if I need to craft a customized defense strategy and fight your case in court, you will have the depth of my knowledge, resources, and litigation experience behind you.
Call 215-712-1212 or contact us online today to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in PA or to learn more about the potential simple assault punishment you might be facing.