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Difference Between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania

December 08, 2017

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

One of the most common charges levied by Philadelphia police is assault. This is due to the extremely broad definition of assault and the number of different scenarios where assault may come into play. The most obvious example is a fist fight between two people. Other common scenarios involving alleged assault are altercations between family members or altercations at local bars and sporting events.

If you or a family member is currently facing assault charges, you need to speak to an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer. Why? Because the ramifications of a conviction can be quite severe, depending on the type of assault you are charged with. For example, a conviction can carry a penalty of probation, or a multi-year prison sentence, depending on the circumstances.

There are essentially two forms of assault under Pennsylvania law – simple assault and aggravated assault. Under state law, simple assault is when someone suffers a bodily injury due to the intentional or reckless conduct of another. Though, it is important to understand that you can assault someone without ever touching them. If the victim felt fear of imminent injury, it is possible for police to charge you with assault. A simple assault is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, carrying a potential punishment of up to two years in prison and a monetary fine totaling $5,000.

Aggravated assault is the more serious form of assault, under state law. Police typically charge someone with aggravated assault when a weapon is involved, or a police officer was assaulted. An aggravated assault is considered a second-degree felony which means you could be sentenced to serve up to ten years in jail and be required to pay a monetary fine of up to $25,000.

In fact, if you are convicted of aggravated assault committed with a weapon, you could be subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence of 5-to-10 years in prison. A mandatory minimum sentence may also come into play even when no weapon was involved and no serious bodily injury was inflicted. If the victim was under the age of 17 and you were over the age of 21, then a mandatory minimum sentence would be applicable.

If you already have a conviction on your record, a second conviction for aggravated assault is considered to be a first degree felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of between 10-to-20 years in prison. If you are convicted a third time, you are looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of between 25-to-50 years in prison, or even a lifetime prison sentence under Pennsylvania’s Three Strikes Law.

Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Ready to Help

As you can see, an assault conviction is a serious matter which means you need the services of a serious, skilled, and aggressive Philadelphia criminal defense attorney. van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim are ready and able to take on your case and go to bat for you. Our legal team possesses years of experience and are ready to take your case to trial to convince a jury of your innocence. Contact our office today to schedule a meeting.



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