Though it’s common to consider assault as an event that results in physical injury, a person may be charged with attempting to assault another person(s) where no injury occurs.
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What Is Assault?
Assault is often defined as any action that aims to intentionally harm an individual(s).
Assault Charges In Pennsylvania
Assault covers a wide variety of violent crimes. According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Reporting stats, are over 1.24 million violent crimes annually. Though there are a number of violent crimes, assault is a common charge, and the following assault classifications are common within Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania law describes simple assault as any effort to knowingly or intentionally cause bodily harm to another individual. This can be through a physical altercation, assault with a deadly weapon, or an act that results in bodily harm due to negligence. Simple assault charges are often considered misdemeanors of the second degree unless the charge is a result of a physical altercation in which all parties entered into it with mutual consent (third-degree) or when the assault involves a child under the age of 12 and an adult of 18 years or older (first degree).
§ 2701. Simple Assault
In accordance with PA law, under 18 PA C.S.A. 2701, an individual can be charged with simple assault if: In PA, simple assault charges may be filed if an individual
(1) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
(2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;
(3) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or
(4) conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.
In Pennsylvania, aggravated assault is always considered a felony of the first degree (1, 2, and 9 below) or second degree (3 – 8 below). One of the primary distinguishing factors between aggravated assault and simple assault is the degree of bodily harm inflicted upon intended towards a victim. As described above, simple assault charges can be filed in the vent of “bodily injury”, but aggravated assault is designated by serious bodily injury, which is often described as an injury that results in death or serious impairment or disfiguration.
§ 2702. Aggravated Assault.
According to PA law, specifically 18 PA C.S.A. 2702, aggravated assault charges can occur if an individual :
(1) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
(2) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c) or to an employee of an agency, company or other entity engaged in public transportation, while in the performance of duty;
(3) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), in the performance of duty;
(4) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;
(5) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a teaching staff member, school board member or other employee, including a student employee, of any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school while acting in the scope of his or her employment or because of his or her employment relationship to the school;
(6) attempts by physical menace to put any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), while in the performance of duty, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
(7) uses tear or noxious gas as defined in section 2708(b) (relating to use of tear or noxious gas in labor disputes) or uses an electric or electronic incapacitation device against any officer, employee or other person enumerated in subsection (c) while acting in the scope of his employment;
(8) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to a child less than six years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older; or
(9) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a child less than 13 years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older.
Similar to aggravated assault, assault of a law enforcement officer (LEO) charges can be filed when an individual intentionally or knowingly attempts to harm an on-duty LEO, specifically if the individual discharges a firearm. Under PA law, this type of assault is considered a first-degree offense.
§ 2702.1. Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer
Assault of an LEO is covered under 18 PA C.S.A. 2702.1, and describes this offense as:
(a) Assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree.–A person commits a felony of the first degree who attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, while in the performance of duty and with knowledge that the victim is a law enforcement officer, by discharging a firearm.
This charge is very serious due to the minimum mandatory sentence of not less than 20 years to not more than 40 years upon conviction. The attorneys at Palissery Law Offices, have specifically handled numerous cases at trial involving multiple counts of this charge.
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9719.1
§ 9719.1. Sentences for offenses committed against law enforcement officer
(a) Mandatory sentence.–A person convicted of the following offense shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment as follows:
18 Pa.C.S. § 2702.1(a) (relating to assault of law enforcement officer)–not less than 20 years.
(b) Authority of court in sentencing.–There shall be no authority in any court to impose on an offender to which this section is applicable any lesser sentence than provided for in subsection (a) or to place such offender on probation or to suspend sentence. Nothing in this section shall prevent the sentencing court from imposing a sentence greater than that provided in this section. Sentencing guidelines promulgated by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing shall not supersede the mandatory sentences provided in this section.
(c) Appeal by Commonwealth.–If a sentencing court refuses to apply this section where applicable, the Commonwealth shall have the right to appellate review of the action of the sentencing court. The appellate court shall vacate the sentence and remand the case to the sentencing court for imposition of a sentence in accordance with this section if it finds that the sentence was imposed in violation of this section.
(d) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
“Law enforcement officer.” The term shall have the same meaning as the term “peace officer” is given under 18 Pa.C.S. § 501 (relating to definitions).
Terroristic threat charges can include both verbal threats, including oral threats or those sent via email, text message, etc., and physical threats, which can include actions like pointing a gun at an individual. Terroristic threats are typically considered misdemeanors in the first degree; however, if the threat results in disruption of operations within a building, place of assembly, or transportation facility, it can result in a felony of the third degree.
§ 2706. Terroristic Threats
According to 18 PA C.S.A. 2706, a person can face terroristic threat charges if they directly or indirectly threaten to:
(1) commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another;
(2) cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation; or
(3) otherwise cause serious public inconvenience, or cause terror or serious public inconvenience with reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.
Though the assaults classifications listed above are common, Pennsylvania criminal offense laws also include the following statues. If you or someone you love has been convicted of any of the crimes below, please call us today so we can discuss your case.
- Aggravated harassment by prisoner 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2703.1
- Assault by prisoner 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2703
- Assault by life prisoner 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2704
- Recklessly endangering another person 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2705
- Propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle or onto a roadway 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2707
- Discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2707.1
- Use of tear or noxious gas in labor disputes 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2708
- Harassment 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2709
- Strangulation 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2718
- Stalking 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2709.1
- Ethnic intimidation 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2710
- Assault on sports official 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2712
- Probable cause arrests in domestic violence cases 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2711
- Neglect or abuse of care-dependent person 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2713
- Unauthorized administration of intoxicant 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2714
- Threat to use weapons of mass destruction 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2715
- Use of weapons of mass destruction 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2716
If You've Been Charged
Assault is a serious offense that can have lasting financial, social, familial, and emotional consequences to those convicted as well as their families. If you’ve been charged with assault, it’s imperative that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The attorneys at Palissery Law Offices are standing by and ready to mount a strong defense against assault charges in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. Contact us today at 570-331-4LAW or by submitting an online request for a free case evaluation.
At Palissery Law Offices, we combine over 38 years of criminal defense experience to defend and protect those accused of assault, helping them avoid or mitigate the life-altering implications of a criminal conviction. Our team of dedicated attorneys specializes in a variety of assault cases, including aggravated assault, simple assault, assault of law enforcement by firearm, terroristic threats, and other violent crimes.