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Understanding Simple Assault in Pennsylvania

May 31, 2023

Earlier this month, a Hanover, PA man was charged with assault after punching a woman in the stomach. She had recently given birth via a cesarean section and suffered significant bleeding. Now, he is facing charges of second-degree simple assault. Assault is one of the most common offenses in Pennsylvania, mainly due to the fact that so many circumstances could be considered assault.

Whether or not assault occurred in this most recent case is not yet known, as the man claimed he was giving the woman a piggy-back ride and she fell. However, it’s important everyone understands what constitutes simple assault in the state, and the penalties one could face if convicted.

Simple Assault Defined

Pennsylvania’s simple assault laws are outlined in the Crimes Code in 18 PA C.S.A. 2701. Under this statute, simple assault is defined as an intentional attempt to cause another person bodily harm. Recklessly causing someone else harm is also considered simple assault. Negligent use of a deadly weapon could also result in assault charges.

It’s important to understand that no injuries have to result from the incident in order for someone to face simple assault charges. One person simply has to try and hurt another individual. Bar fights commonly result in assault charges. In these fights, even attempting to punch another person is considered assault, even if they miss and don’t punch anyone.

Penalties for Simple Assault

There really is nothing simple about simple assault charges. They still need a solid defense, as the penalties are harsh. Simple assault is always charged as a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, although there are varying degrees.

A third-degree misdemeanor, the least serious of all simple assault charges, carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A second-degree misdemeanor, the crime charged in the recent news story, carries penalties of up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Lastly, a first-degree misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

In assault cases that involve an alleged perpetrator over the age of 21 and an alleged victim under the age of 12, first-degree assault charges are typically laid, regardless of whether or not injury occurred.

Have You Been Charged with Assault? Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys

Simple assault charges may not sound serious, but they are. The penalties are very strict and those convicted will also have a permanent criminal record. Those accused need a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney that can help.

At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know how serious assault charges are, and we also know the defenses to use to give you the best chance of having your charges reduced, or dropped altogether. We’ll work hard to find and present evidence that corroborates your side of the story, and give you the best chance of success in court. Don’t leave your future up to chance. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online so we can start reviewing your case.


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