Time is of the essence when you are charged with the crime of assault in Pennsylvania. The courts take incidences of assault seriously, and even minor assault charges can lead to time spent behind bars. If you are convicted of assault, life takes a complicated turn that can impact you and your family for many years into the future. It is of the utmost urgency that you contact our Westmoreland assault charges attorney as soon as possible after your arrest to review your legal options and your rights.
Assault in Pennsylvania is defined as “an attempt to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another, negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon, or physically menacing or putting fear of bodily injury in another person.” Assault may be classified by type, including:
- Felony assault
- Assault with a weapon
- Vehicular assault
- Assault of a minor
- Assault and battery
Assaults can be simple or aggravated, and the penalties for assault are enhanced by the circumstances of the assault, including whether the person assaulted was a minor, if there was a deadly weapon involved, or if the victim was a public officer.
Simple assault charges range from first- to third-degree charges, and it usually involves minor or even no injuries. This type of assault may result from simply threatening someone with harm of holding a weapon against the victim. General simple assault, simple assault with mutual consent (such as during a fistfight), and simple assault against a child 12 or under are the three classifications of simple assault and carry maximum penalties ranging from one to three years in prison.
Aggravated assault is sometimes referred to as felony assault. This type of assault is a violent assault that causes serious bodily injury to the victim. In these cases, the defendant acted with extreme indifference to human life or assaulted an officer of the law. Maximum charges for felony assault range from Felony 1 to Felony 3 and carry a maximum penalty of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Potential Defenses for Assault
There are several strategies that may be applicable in your assault case that can lessen the charges against you or have them vacated entirely. Self-defense is a common defense in assault cases; in this instance, the defendant reacted to the threat of harm, resulting in the assault. Defendants acting in defense of others due to reasonable fear of harm to the other person is also another often-used defense in assault cases.
In addition, there may be the possibility for you to enter a plea of “no contest” to the charge and agree to participate in an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program. Under this program, charges against you are dismissed upon program competition. This option is typically only available for Pennsylvania defendants with no prior convictions and no history of participation in the program.