Pennsylvania Criminal Law Topic of the Week: Assault

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Assault means something very specific and it may not be what you think. An assault refers to an attempt or threat of violence – not actual violence itself. The actual violence itself is battery, which is why you commonly hear of individuals being accused of assault and battery. In today’s blog, your Western PA criminal law attorneys discuss the specifics about the crime of assault.

What is assault under Pennsylvania law?

In Pennsylvania, assault charges can come with very serious criminal charges, and there are two forms of assault charges: simple assault and aggravated assault.

What is simple assault?

Simple assault charges can come from acts that were not intentionally violent in nature. For example, if you were in a heated verbal argument with another person and happened to poke them during the course of the argument, there would be a case to bring simple assault charges against you. Basically, if a person reasonably believes that a threat will be carried out, then there will be a case for filing simple assault charges.

What is aggravated assault?

Aggravated assault is a felony under Pennsylvania law. The penalty for aggravated assault can be up to 20 years in prison. Aggravated assault requires intent to inflict violence on another individual. Attempted assault or actual assault will satisfy aggravated assault charges, however the act of violence must be severe and egregious. The use of a weapon also distinguishes aggravated assault from simple assault. Any use of a weapon will automatically bring about potential aggravated assault charges.

What should I do if I’m charged with assault?

If you have been charged with either simple or aggravated assault, you will need an experienced attorney to help explain the law, strategize, and help you through the court process. Our criminal defense attorney, Jill Sinatra, is here to help you. To schedule a consultation with Attorney Sinatra, please contact our law office today!