Getting into a brief fistfight with another person that just results in a few bruises might not seem like an offense that merits harsh punishment. It is true that some instances of assault do not result in much more than a fine and a brief prison sentence. Still, a prosecutor may pursue more aggressive charges against you if circumstances allow it.
There are many factors that go into an assault case. Harsher charges may result depending on how the assault occurs and who the target of the assault is. Per FindLaw, here is a broad overview of situations that can intensify an assault case against you.
Only one party enters a fight
If both you and another person decide to engage in a physical altercation, a prosecutor would likely seek a third degree misdemeanor charge. However, if law enforcement believes you hit somebody and the person had no wish to fight, a prosecutor could bump up the charge to a second degree misdemeanor, which may increase your jail time and fines.
Assault involving children
You can expect state law to look at assault in a harsher light if it occurs against children. According to Pennsylvania law, an adult older than 21 years old who commits assault against a child younger than 12 is eligible for a first degree misdemeanor charge. A court could impose a sentence as high as five years in prison upon conviction.
Specific professions targeted for assault
State law provides for harsher penalties if you engage in aggravated assault as opposed to simple assault. Aggravated assault carries a possible sentence of up to ten years imprisonment. However, the charge can rise to a first degree felony if you were to assault someone who works as a public official, such as police officers, firefighters and school board members.
The degree of injury
The injuries inflicted by an assault may also factor into assault charges. A prosecutor may believe you had caused or intended to cause bodily injury but not serious bodily injury. If so, you may receive a simple assault charge. State law reserves aggravated assault for cases that involve serious bodily injury. You might find that severity of injury will be a crucial component if you become involved in an assault case.