If you were arrested and charged with the crimes of assault, aggravated assault, or simple assault, contact the Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at The Zeiger Firm. Our criminal defense attorneys understand the differences between these crimes and will zealously defend you against these charges. Generally, an assault is defined as an attempt or a threat to injure a person. Often, when our clients are charged with an assault crime, they are also charged with recklessly endangering another person (REAP) or possession of an instrument of crime (PIC). In Pennsylvania, there is no distinction under the law between assault and battery. Regardless of the charges, our aggravated assault lawyers can defend your case.
The Philadelphia assault lawyers at The Zeiger Firm understand the laws, rules, and procedures necessary to defend clients charged with assault and battery, and we fight to obtain the best results for our clients. We advocate zealously, never forgetting that our most important goal is obtaining the best results for our clients, whether that means fighting procedural battles or representing our clients before a judge or jury. We work hard for our clients, explaining their options and keeping them updated about the status of their cases.
When you need a Philadelphia assault attorney to defend you after an arrest or charge of assault and battery, contact The Zeiger Firm, who represent every client zealously to obtain the best results possible in each case. To arrange a consultation, please give us a call at (215) 546-0340 or send us an email via our online contact form.
Some assault crimes are charged as misdemeanors and this type of offense is often referred to as simple assault. However, do not be mistaken, as there is nothing simple about Pennsylvania’s assault laws or the criminal process that follows misdemeanor assault charges. Always take these charges seriously—just because they are not felony crimes does not mean that potentially harsh consequences won’t follow if you are convicted.
To convict you of simple assault, a prosecutor must prove that you recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally:
- Put another person in fear of imminent bodily injury
- Attempted to inflict bodily injury on another person
- Inflicted bodily injury on another person
For the purposes of the law, intentionally means that you had the specific intent to commit the illegal and harmful act. Knowingly means you had an awareness of the nature of your actions and of the possible consequences of those actions. For example, if you charge at someone and they try to back away quickly and they fall and injure themselves, the law assumes that you knew their injuries may be a consequence of your trying to intimidate or frighten them. This would likely constitute assault. Challenging your intent or knowledge of risk is one common way of defending against simple assault charges.
Recklessly does not necessarily mean you meant to hurt someone but that you acted with a deliberate disregard for the risks of harm created by your actions. If a reasonable person in the same situation would have recognized and appreciated the risks involved, an action can constitute criminal recklessness. Recklessness is often a subjective concept, and if the allegations against you claim you acted in a reckless manner, your assault charges attorney can argue that you did not act unreasonably in the situation and, therefore, the element of recklessness is not sufficiently satisfied for a conviction.
In addition to your state of mind at the time of the assault, another important concept to understand is what qualifies as a bodily injury. Almost any type of injury will qualify under the law—even a scratch or a bruise—as long as there was some type of physical impairment and some level of physical pain. Many people mistakenly believe that assault only involves serious injuries, but the state can issue simple assault charges for causing minor injuries—or even just the fear of suffering minor injuries!
Examples of a possible simple assault include:
- A person raises a hand as if to slap you—even if that person does not actually hit you, he committed assault if you believed he was going to slap you and hurt you.
- You accidentally bump into another patron at a bar and the patron turns and punches you. You did not commit assault because you did not intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly bump into the patron or cause harm in any way. The patron does commit assault when he punched you and caused you pain and gave you a black eye.
- Someone throws an object in your general direction to scare you. Even if the object does not hit you, it may constitute assault if you genuinely feared it would hit you. If the object does hit you, it constitutes assault even if the person only meant to scare you and did not mean to hit you.
The offense of assault encompasses many types of actions, and many people do not realize that their actions may result in assault charges. Have a skilled criminal defense lawyer closely examine the circumstances of what happened and the allegations against you to determine ways to defend against your charges.
Realize that words by themselves cannot constitute assault. Simply saying that you are going to hit someone without taking any action that causes fear that you actually may hit them is not enough to bring an assault conviction. One way to defend against assault charges is to demonstrate that your threats were empty and that you never took a physical step toward carrying out the threat.
In addition to the above basic definition of simple assault, the following types of conduct may also constitute simple assault:
- Negligently handling a deadly weapon in a manner that causes bodily injury to another person. A deadly weapon is an instrument—such as a knife or a gun—that has the ability to cause serious injury or death. Negligently means you acted in a risky manner when you knew or should have known of the risk of injury.
- Using physical menace to place another person in fear of imminent injury. Again, you must take physical action—words alone are not enough to qualify as a criminal menace.
- Attempting to conceal or conceal a hypodermic needle to stick a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or an employee of a detention facility or mental hospital while they conduct a search or an arrest.
Penalties for Simple Assault in Pennsylvania
Generally speaking, simple assault is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. The charges can increase to a first-degree misdemeanor if the alleged victim of the assault was a child younger than 12 and the accused was 18 or older. On the other hand, if the assault took place during a fight into which the parties mutually entered, authorities will likely charge it as a third-degree misdemeanor.
The maximum penalties for each of these charges are:
- Third-degree misdemeanor – one year in jail and a $2,500 fine
- Second-degree misdemeanor – two years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- First-degree misdemeanor – five years in prison and a $10,000 fine
An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend against your simple assault charges and limit the penalties you face or persuade the prosecution to completely drop your charges. Call The Zeiger Firm to discuss your charges today.