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Aggravated Assault vs. Attempted Murder Charges in Pennsylvania

May 20, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In early March, a Pennsylvania woman was charged with attempted murder after throwing a knife at her boyfriend. The knife struck the man in the chest, perilously close to his heart. The man survived the incident, but the woman now faces serious consequences if she’s convicted.

It’s unknown whether the woman was trying to actually kill her boyfriend, injure him, or possibly just even scare him. So, why has she been charged with attempted murder? To answer this, one needs to understand the laws surrounding attempted murder and aggravated assault in Pennsylvania.

Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, assault is a crime that is taken very seriously. Simple assault is considered a misdemeanor offense, while aggravated assault is considered a felony. Both require the prosecution to show that the defendant inflicted, or tried to inflict, physical injury on another person.

The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault is that the latter also requires the use of a weapon. Assault against certain public officials or employees is also considered aggravated assault, even if no weapon was used during the alleged crime.

Considering these legal definitions, one could assume that the woman’s actions in this recent story fit the description of aggravated assault. Why then, was she charged with attempted murder?

Attempted Murder in Pennsylvania

Attempted murder in Pennsylvania differs from aggravated assault due to the fact that the legal definition requires serious bodily injury to result from the incident. An aggravated assault charge only requires one to try to inflict bodily harm. Even if the victim does not sustain injury, a person can still face charges of aggravated assault. This is not the case when a person is charged with attempted murder.

Serious bodily injury is also defined in Pennsylvania’s attempted murder statute. According to the law, these injuries are those which could lead to an increased risk of death, a loss or impairment of function of a bodily organ, or permanent disfigurement.

In this particular story, an attempted murder charge was applied due to the fact that the woman not only used a knife, but that the knife struck the man very close to his heart. Not only could the man not stop the bleeding on his own, but chest wounds pose a great risk for death, and the woman was allegedly responsible for that wound.

It is the presence of an actual injury that differentiates aggravated assault and attempted murder in Pennsylvania. In both cases though, the defendant must have shown intent to cause harm.

Facing Serious Charges? Contact a Philadelphia Murder Defense Attorney

The charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder do have their differences in Pennsylvania. However, one similarity they both share is that they are both very serious charges. If convicted, those accused face serious consequences. A Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer can help anyone charged build a strong defense.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123. Convictions don’t only result in jail time and high fines. They also have a great impact on your future, preventing you from gaining employment, housing, and other opportunities. We will work hard to help you beat these charges, so this doesn’t happen to you. Call us today or fill out our online form so we can begin reviewing your case.



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