Aggravated assault is a serious criminal offense in the state of Pennsylvania, and is prosecuted as either a first-degree or second-degree felony (depending on the particular circumstances of the case). Given the high stakes nature of aggravated assault litigation, and the life-altering consequences of conviction, it’s important that you speak to a qualified attorney for guidance on how best to approach your impending prosecution.
Basics of Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is a heightened version of simple assault, which is a combination of the elements of traditional assault and battery. Where simple assault involves the menace of serious bodily injury, or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury, aggravated assault involves the same issues, but more severe. In other words, you could be charged with the felony offense of aggravated assault — and not simple assault, which is a misdemeanor — if your actions ultimately end up causing serious bodily harm.
Section 2702 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes defines the actions necessary for the state to convict you of aggravated assault. There are a number of variations, which can be rather confusing for first-time criminal defendants .
You may be found guilty of aggravated assault if you:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause — or attempt to cause — serious bodily injury to another under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
- intentionally or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- attempt by physical menace to put certain officers, agents, and employees listed in the statute in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Now, these basic situations are further delineated under the statute.
If you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury (or just bodily injury, in some cases) to certain officers, agents, and employees listed in the statute while they are performing their duties, then you may be found guilty of aggravated assault.
Similarly, if you are 18 years or older, and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury to a child less than 13 years of age , or cause bodily injury to a child less than six years of age , then you may be found guilty of aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault will be prosecuted as either a first-degree felony offense or a second-degree felony offense depending on the circumstances. An aggravated assault that involves serious bodily injury is prosecuted as a first-degree felony offense, while an aggravated assault that involves just bodily injury is prosecuted as a second-degree felony offense.
In Pennsylvania, first-degree felony offenses carry penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines. Second-degree felony offenses, by contrast, carry penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines.
Common Defenses to Aggravated Assault
Bodily Injury Was Not Serious
If the bodily injury was not “serious,” then your aggravated assault may be downgraded from a first-degree felony offense to a second-degree felony offense, or in some circumstances, may be further downgraded to a simple assault. Whether the injury is deemed “serious” will depend on whether the prosecution can prove that the harm at-issue caused permanent disfigurement, long-term functional impairments, or a substantial risk of death.
Self-defense is a complete defense to aggravated assault (and lesser offenses, such as simple assault). If you can show that you reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, and that you did not have a duty to retreat, given the circumstances, then you can effectively put forth a self-defense argument that will shield you from criminal liability.
Injury Was Caused by Negligence
If the bodily injuries caused to the victim were not the result of intentional, knowing, or reckless conduct, then you can avoid criminal liability for aggravated assault entirely. Negligent conduct does not give rise to culpability in the aggravated assault context. As such, you’ll want to show that you did not act recklessly given the circumstances, and that you did not act with the specific intent to cause harm.
Contact an Experienced Pittsburgh Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you have been charged with aggravated assault, or any other violent crime, then you may be feeling confused and overwhelmed by the prospect of criminal litigation and the severe penalties associated with the crime at-issue. We urge those who have been charged with aggravated assault in Pennsylvania to get in touch with a qualified Pittsburgh aggravated assault defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will evaluate your case and work with you to evaluate evidence, negotiate with prosecutors, and advocate aggressively on your behalf.
Here at McKinney Law, our attorneys have extensive experience representing Pennsylvania criminal defendants in a range of disputes, including litigation over aggravated assault charges and other violent crimes. We are deeply committed to providing client-oriented legal advocacy, and to that end, we go out of our way to be accessible to our clients. We quickly provide responses to any and all inquiries within 24 hours — and further, if you can only schedule a consultation after-hours, we are more than willing to accommodate your request.
Call (412) 520-3301 or submit an online message to connect to McKinney Law for a free and confidential consultation. We look forward to assisting you.