Assault allegations or being charged with assault in Pittsburgh can be a frustrating situation, especially when you feel the arresting officers did not take your side of the story into account. When you are facing assault charges, contact the experienced counsel of the Pittsburgh assault lawyers at SMT.
Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault
In Pennsylvania, there are two types of charges for assault charges – simple assault and aggravated assault. If you were charged with disorderly conduct (arguing, threatening or using obscene language) you may face summary charges instead of assault charges.If you were involved in a domestic violence incident, you may be charged with simple assault.While simple assault may have an “easy” name, it still comes with very tough penalties. However, aggravated assault is a much more serious charge (a felony) that could result in up to 20 years in prison.
A minor altercation like punching someone, even if that person also punched you, could result in a prison sentence for up to one year under Pennsylvania laws.
A simple assault conviction is a misdemeanor and the punishment typically means spending up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you face disorderly conduct charges, you may receive a summary offense, which falls under separate conviction guidelines. An aggravated assault conviction in Pennsylvania is punishable as a felony with up to 20 years in prison.
Basically, simple assault involves attempting to cause or causing bodily injury to another person or negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon.For instance, punching someone is simple assault. Attempting to physically hurt someone, even if the attempt is unsuccessful, is also classified as simple assault. Injuring someone due to negligence is also simple assault – for example, not being careful while handling a gun.
The Pennsylvania Criminal Code defines Simple Assault as:
Except as provided under section 2702 (relating to aggravated assault), a person is guilty of assault if he or she:
- Attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
- Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;
- Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or
- Conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer during the course of an arrest.
Penalties For A Simple Assault Conviction
Charges for a Simple Assault in Pennsylvania typically mean you will face a second degree misdemeanor.
Two exceptions are if the fight was of mutual consent or if a child under 12 is involved. If the fight was of mutual consent, meaning the parties mutually entered into the fight, then it is downgraded to a third degree misdemeanor. If the assault involved a child under age 12, and the accused is over 21, the charges are upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor.
- A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- A second degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- A third degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
There are very harsh penalties for what may have seemed like a harmless act or something of which you may be completely innocent. Fighting these charges through an experienced legal defense is the best way to protect your freedom and liberties.
Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania
Assault is classified as Aggravated Assault when the accused attempts to cause or causes serious injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
The difference between the simple and aggravated assault has to do with both the seriousness of the physical injury incurred and risk of death involved in the crime.
Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer
If you were charged with assault of a law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania, you face a felony, up to 40 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) can include police officers, as well as judges, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, parole officers, probation officers and constables. Assaulting a law enforcement officer is also considered an aggravated assault.
Sexual Assault Charges
When we turn to the Pennsylvania code of laws, we can see that sexual assault is specifically defined under 18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.1. According to this code, “a person commits a felony of the second degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant’s consent.” Sexual assault is charged as a second-degree felony offense. Upon conviction, a person could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Aside from sexual assault charges under 18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.1, there are various other charges that a person can face related to illegal sexual activities. This includes:
- Indecent assault
- Aggravated indecent assault
- Institutional sexual assault
- Involuntary deviant sexual intercourse
- Unlawful contact with a minor
Possible Defenses for Sexual Assault Charges
It is important to remember that when a person has been charged with sexual assault, this does not mean they have been convicted. At SMT Legal, we firmly believe that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven otherwise. The best way for you to reach a successful outcome after being charged with sexual assault in Pittsburgh is to secure assistance from a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will have the resources necessary to stand up to aggressive prosecutors and law enforcement officials. An attorney can:
- Use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the case. This will include gathering all of the evidence being used by prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
- Investigate the circumstances upon which law enforcement obtained the evidence being used against you.
- Fully explained to you every option you have available. This will include the pros and cons of moving forward to trial or accepting a plea deal.
- Handle all communication and negotiations with prosecutors to explore the possibility of a plea deal if that is the best course of action moving forward.
- Work to negotiate fair sentencing as part of any negotiated plea deal.
- Prepare the case for trial to ensure your rights are upheld.
We understand how serious sexual assault charges are and that your freedom is at stake if you are convicted. However, we will do everything possible to ensure that you win the case and do not have to spend any additional time in jail. We will do that by building a defense against the sexual assault charges. The most common defenses to these charges include the following:
- Mental incapacity or insanity
- Mistaken identity
- Involuntary intoxication
- Age (when statutory rape occurs)
An attorney could also argue that the defendant does not have a prior criminal record, that the victim has made prior false accusations, or provide the results of a psychological evaluation that the defendant underwent to prove their innocence.
Not all of these defenses will wind up working, however, your attorney will ensure that a strong defense is put in place to the charges levied against you.
Registering As a Sex Offender
It is important to note that you will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life if you are convicted of a sexual crime in Pennsylvania. You will be required to register on a state and national list. These lists are available to the public and can be accessed by those who live and work near you.
While it might seem obvious to you that you didn’t commit the crime, it can be challenging to convince a jury of the same. That is why you should always have a criminal defense attorney represent you in court. Our attorneys at SMT Legal will review your case, including any and all evidence, and help build a defense.
Pittsburgh Assault Attorneys
At SMT Legal, our assault attorneys work to make a positive difference in our clients’ lives. We are skilled and experienced at winning assault cases and fighting for charges to be reduced or dropped altogether. In order to protect your freedom and your reputation we will work to ensure that you have a strong case to bring before the judge. We will use all our legal knowledge and ability to get the best possible outcome for your case. Contact the assault defense attorneys at SMT Legal today to find out how we can help you.