Allentown Assault Attorney
People argue with each other every day. These arguments can quickly turn violent, especially if there is any aggravating circumstance. That circumstance could be something as simple as the weather. Most Allentown law enforcement divisions have mandatory arrest policies. If these officers respond to an assault call, someone gets arrested and goes to jail straightaway. So, a person could be charged with assault for being incoherent or not having a compelling story to tell officers. Situations like these call for an experienced attorney.
At van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin, our Allentown assault attorneys use proven methods to achieve good results in assault cases. Our lawyers know all the procedural and evidentiary rules, even the ones which are unwritten. That experience gives us an edge in the courtroom. Because of that edge, we are often able to negotiate favorable plea agreements. So, you may be able to avoid jail time and high fines without even going to court.
What Constitutes Assault in Allentown?
Some people think assault is a cut-and-dried matter. After all, you either hit someone or you do not. But this offense is one of the most complex ones in Pennsylvania law. Assume Ben nudges past Sally in a crowd. She loses her balance, falls awkwardly, and breaks her leg. Did Ben commit a crime?
First, there must be mens rea, or a criminal state of mind. If Ben accidentally shoved Sally, he is not guilty of a crime. Subsequent events are irrelevant. The prosecutor bears the burden of proof on this point, and this is a difficult point to establish. Even if Ben said “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry” when he shoved Sally, the jury could interpret that statement in different ways.
The nudge itself is a little less complex. Any harmful or offensive touch constitutes an assault. However, if Ben nudged Sally’s purse or backpack instead of her arm or shoulder, his attorney could argue that Ben did not touch Sally. The prosecutor could argue that the backpack or purse was an extension of Sally’s person, so a judge would probably decide this dispute.
Finally, it’s clear that Ben is not guilty of aggravated assault, even though Sally broke her leg. That wound definitely constitutes serious bodily injury in Pennsylvania. However, at worst, Ben only intended to push Sally out of the way. He did not intend to break her leg, and that additional intent (specific intent) is an element of aggravated assault.
Some Assault Defenses in Lehigh County
Self-defense is perhaps the most common affirmative defense in these cases. If Sally pushed Ben and then Ben pushed back, Ben may have a defense to an assault charge. It does not matter that Sally broke her leg. The amount of force that Ben used was proportional to the amount of force Sally used, and that’s all that matters.
Voluntary intoxication may be a defense in aggravated assault cases. But intoxication is not a defense in simple assault matters. Even if Ben was drunk almost to the point of unconsciousness, that state would not be a defense to a simple assault charge.
Sally would probably have to testify at Ben’s trial. Allentown prosecutors could try to use a legal loophole, like the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule, to admit her testimony in another way. But a judge might shoot down this effort. Usually, there is a gap of a year or even longer between the alleged assault and the trial. During that period, Sally may move away or lose interest in the case.
Connect with Aggressive Attorneys
Simple assault cases are far from simple in Lehigh County. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Allentown, contact van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin. Convenient payment plans are available.