Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania: Definitions and Differences

Pennsylvania has a population of about 18.2 million people. Philadelphia, like any big city in America, has a high rate of violent crimes. Simple assault and aggravated assault are two of the most prevalent charges, so it is crucial to know the difference between these two categories. For more detailed information about simple assault and aggravated assault, you can read our article or refer to the Philadelphia Aggravated and Simple Assault Lawyer.

Property and Violent Crime Pennsylvania

What Is Simple Assault?

Simple assault is the most common type of assault, but it is the least serious. Pennsylvania Law defines simple assault as an attempt to cause, or to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause, bodily injury to another individual. Assault cases usually stem from bar fights, scuffles, domestic violence, etc. This means that if you are involved in a fight that results in inflicted injuries, you will likely be charged with simple assault.

Is Simple Assault a Felony?

Simple Assault is less serious than a felony and is usually considered a misdemeanor of the second degree according to Philadelphia Law. However, the gradation of simple assault includes the following:

Gradation of Simple Assault

Circumstances
Misdemeanor of the first degreeIf an assault is committed against a child under 12 years of age by a person 18 years of age or older.
Misdemeanor of the second degree

If an alleged perpetrator:

(1) tries to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to the victim;

(2) negligently causes bodily injury to the victim with a deadly weapon or dangerous object;

(3) tries, by a physical threat, to place the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or 

(4) hides, or tries to hide, a hypodermic needle on himself or herself and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or employee of a county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.

Misdemeanor of the third degreeMutual combat, when an alleged victim and an alleged perpetrator enter a fight willingly.

Simple Domestic Assault

If you attempted to commit or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly committed a violent act against a member of your family or household, which caused bodily injuries, you would be arrested. Furthermore, the victim couldn’t drop the charges; the prosecutor would decide whether to press simple domestic assault charges against you. In the worst-case scenario, you would need an experienced domestic violence lawyer to shed some light and make legal sense of the case to lessen the offense or get the charges withdrawn through some kind of agreement.

Violent Crime Comparison. Pennsylvania.

What Is Aggravated Assault?

In Pennsylvania, aggravated assault is understood as an attempt to cause or to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to another individual under circumstances displaying extreme indifference to the value of human life. Placing a victim in fear of violence with a deadly weapon, like a knife or gun, can be defined as aggravated assault. For example, if you threaten to kill a person while aiming a gun at him or her, there is a likelihood that you will be accused of aggravated assault.

Is Aggravated Assault a Felony?

Aggravated assault is a felony that can be of the first or second degree, depending on the circumstances:

Gradation of Aggravated AssaultCircumstances
Felony of the first degree

If an alleged perpetrator:

(1) aims to cause serious bodily injury to the victim, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances demonstrating extreme indifference to the value of human life;

(2) tries to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or to an employee of an agency, company or other entity engaged in public transportation, while in the performance of duty; or 

(3)  is 18 years of age or older and attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a child less than 13 years of age.

Felony of the second degree

If an alleged perpetrator:

(1) aims to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons, while in the performance of duty;

(2) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;

(3) tries 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;

(4) attempts, by physical menace, to put any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons, while in the performance of duty, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;

(5) uses tear or noxious gas or uses an electric or electronic incapacitation device against any officer, employee or other people, while acting in the scope of his employment; or 

(6) is 18 years of age or older and attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to a child less than six years of age.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated sexual assault, a form of sexual violence, is an intentional act of sexually touching a individual without his or her consent. This includes forcibly engaging a person in a sexual act against their will. In other words, aggravated sexual assault includes fondling, rape, or sexual abuse.

Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Hurting or threatening to hurt a person using or displaying a gun, knife, or other form of a weapon is defined as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. You can be accused of this offense, even if you don’t actually cause anyone physical harm. The act of use, not possession, of a deadly weapon during an assault determines the actual charges.

Actual versus Projected Crime Totals

Aggravated Domestic Assault

If a person commits aggravated assault against a family or a household member, the current or former spouse, or a person with whom the perpetrator has a child, he or she is guilty of aggravated domestic assault. Spanking, however, as a form of disciplining a child is not an offense.  

What are Simple and Aggravated Assault Penalties in Pennsylvania?

Simple and aggravated assault penalties depend on the severity of the crime and are determined by a category and subcategory. Penalties for simple assault are less serious; however, fines and jail time are substantial.

CategorySubcategoryPunishment
Simple AssaultMisdemeanor of the first degreeUp to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Misdemeanor of the second degreeUp to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
Misdemeanor of the third degreeUp to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000
Aggravated AssaultFelony of the first degreeUp to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000
Felony of the second degreeUp to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000

If you are facing a simple or aggravated assault charge in PA, don’t delay to call a skillful lawyer who can work to lessen your offense.

The best Philadelphia Aggravated and Simple Assault Lawyer

Sometimes, driven by emotions, you may make mistakes that can lead to a trial, conviction, or criminal record negatively affecting your life. If you are charged with an offense in Pennsylvania, you need an experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer on your side. John Rooney is a professional attorney specializing in aggravated and simple assault defense. As an aggravated and simple assault lawyer, Mr. Rooney will meticulously study your case, develop the right strategy, and explain the process to you. If you need a lawyer who will stand for your rights at hearings, call the Law Office of John F. Rooney, V today at 215-279-8400 for a free professional consultation.

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