Assault Defense Attorneys in Allentown, Pennsylvania
Many states separate the crimes of assault and battery. Assault can be just an oral or physical threat that puts another person in fear, or it can be throwing a punch and missing. Battery is the actual physical act of making harmful contact. In Pennsylvania, however, both are categorized as assault. The Commonwealth’s laws distinguish between two types of assault: simple and aggravated.
In general terms, simple assault equates to causing bodily injury to another person or exerting “physical menace” to put the other person in fear of serious bodily injury. Aggravated assault may be charged when there is serious bodily injury to another with an “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
If you are under investigation or facing any kind of assault charge in or around Allentown, Pennsylvania, contact Rapa Law Office, P.C. right away. Our team can begin strategizing your defense and help you exercise your full rights under the Constitution. As criminal defense attorneys, we have more than two decades of experience defending clients against criminal charges.
Assault Laws in Pennsylvania
As mentioned above, the Commonwealth has statutes for simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault has four components, any one of which can lead to a criminal charge. Simple assault occurs when someone:
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 or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.
Notice the use of the words “intentionally,” “knowingly,” and “recklessly” in the above list. Prosecutors can use either or all of these qualifiers to pursue an assault charge.
For instance, if you throw a punch and hit someone, prosecutors could argue that it was intentional. If you shove someone and they fall and injure themselves, they could argue you acted knowingly. The concept of ‘recklessness’ is also important here, meaning that the person being charged disregarded a substantial risk. Conduct is considered reckless when it represents a “gross deviation” from the way the average person would act.
When it comes to aggravated assault, the same three modifiers apply: intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly. However, for aggravated assault, the assault must result—or attempt to result—in serious bodily injury “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Generally, this refers to assaulting someone with a deadly weapon. The aggravated assault category also applies to assault against protected public officials and employees and children. Protected employees and public officials range widely from those in teaching to law enforcement, firefighters, psychiatric aides, and more.
Serious bodily injury is an injury that:
creates a substantial risk of death,
causes permanent disfigurement, or
causes protracted loss or impairment of a major bodily function or organ.
Simple assault is a misdemeanor that can result in prison time of up to two years and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if it’s the result of a fight entered into with mutual consent such as a barroom brawl, the terms are up to one year behind bars and a $2,500 potential fine. Assault against a child under 12 by someone 21 or older is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Aggravated assaults are felonies. Aggravated assault against a public official that does not result in serious bodily injury can lead to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. An aggravated assault against anyone that does lead to serious bodily injury—or attempts to do so—can be punished by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
In a criminal trial, the prosecutors must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed the crime as charged, and the jury must concur without a single dissenting voice. Therefore, your defense may be able to rest on one or more of these arguments:
SELF-DEFENSE: You acted to protect yourself or others from harm. This is probably the most common defense, but Pennsylvania has a limited “stand your ground” statute. To defend yourself, you must be threatened by someone armed with a deadly weapon. However, if you are in your home or car, then you may be allowed to defend yourself under what is called the Castle Doctrine.
YOUR RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED: If police or prosecutors violated your Constitutional rights such as not reading you your Miranda Rights, you might be able to get the charges dropped. You do have a right not to answer questions, but they must inform you of these rights.
YOU WERE MISIDENTIFIED: In a line-up or mug-shot review, a witness incorrectly—or sometimes intentionally—singled you out, perhaps for a revenge motive or at the suggestion of the person running the ID process.
Of course, every single case is different. A skilled lawyer will listen to your unique story and set you up for a successful defense.
Assault Defense Attorneys in Allentown, Pennsylvania
If you’re facing an assault charge in or around Allentown, Pennsylvania, contact us at Rapa Law Office, P.C. Your freedom and future are at stake, and you’ll need dedicated and knowledgeable representation at every step of the legal process. We represent our clients the way we'd like to be represented, which means we are committed to going the extra mile in pursuit of a favorable outcome. Our team is proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Lehighton, Palmerton, Jim Thorpe, Bethlehem, Walnutport, and the rest of the state.