Assault Charges in Pittsburgh
When you are involved in a physical altercation with another person, the last thing on your mind is whether or not you could potentially face assault charges. Even a minor altercation with someone you know that ends in blows could result in Pittsburgh assault charges.
Proof of Assault
Pennsylvania statutes have two classifications of assault known as simple assault and aggravated assault. Prosecutors have to prove certain elements of a crime in order for a defendant to face assault charges.
Proving charges of simple assault means the prosecution will have to prove:
Intentional bodily injury
The prosecutor must prove that the defendant had an intention to cause bodily injury to a person or if a person causes injury with a deadly weapon. Keep in mind, a deadly weapon can be considered a handgun, shod foot or an automobile.
Menace or intimidation
When a person attempts to threaten another person with bodily injury they could face simple assault charges.
Assaults on law enforcement
If a law enforcement officer is searching a defendant and is injured with a needle in the course of that search the defendant could face simple assault charges.
For a prosecutor to prove an aggravated assault occurred, they will have to demonstrate:
To prove aggravated assault prosecutors must show that serious bodily injury was caused and the defendant was indifferent to the injury.
Law enforcement officers
If the defendant injures any law enforcement officer including firefighters and parole officers while they are performing their duties they could face aggravated assault charges.
Any person who attempts to cause harm or intentionally causes serious bodily harm to a school teacher while on school grounds will face aggravated assault charges.
Use of Stun Guns/Gas
Anyone who attempts to disable a law enforcement officer using pepper spray, tear gas or other noxious substances or uses a stun gun to disable a member of law enforcement including city, state or federal law enforcement can face aggravated assault charges.
Penalties for Assault
Simple assaults are typically charged as misdemeanor offenses with the degree of misdemeanor assigned based on the parties involved. For example, a “mutual” assault would be classified as a second degree misdemeanor while an assault on a child, teacher or law enforcement officer would generally be a first degree misdemeanor. Those who are convicted could face substantial fines at the discretion of the court and potential jail time of between one and five years.
Anyone who is convicted of an aggravated assault will face far stiffer penalties. Any aggravated assault upon a law enforcement officer will automatically be charged as a first degree felony offense and in addition to having a life-long record as a violent felony offender, those convicted could also face up to 20 years in jail. Those charged with second degree felony assault could face up to 10 years jail time. Keep in mind, while the statutes in Pennsylvania do not provide any guidance on fines that may be assessed if one is convicted of an assault crime, the court has discretion and may impose fines.
Defense Options For Assault
Your criminal defense attorney will ask you numerous questions to determine what the situation was that led to your assault charges. In some cases, they may be able to use self-defense, a lack of intention or a provocation defense. Just because someone was actually injured does not mean you are automatically considered guilty of assault; like every other criminal offense, you have the right to be considered innocent until you are actually found guilty of the charges against you.
Anyone who is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania should contact a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney who will aggressively pursue your defense. In addition to jail time, steep fines and a lifelong criminal record, you could face later challenges obtaining employment and housing as well as lose your rights to own a firearm.