If you have been arrested on an aggravated assault charge, you are at risk of going to prison for years, expensive fines and complications that will follow you during probation and beyond.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will fight hard to pursue these charges and you will be up against a determined arresting police officer and prosecutor. If you or a family member has been charged with aggravated assault, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What You Need To Know About Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated assault is an attempt to cause serious bodily harm to another person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, with extreme indifference to the value of human life.
- Who you harm, and how you harm them, can make a very serious difference in your charges.
- You can be found guilty of a first degree felony if you intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause serious harm to officers, agents, or employees of an organization in the prison system or the courts while they are performing their duties (these include police officers, firefighters, probation or parole officers, sheriffs, prison employees, judges, the district attorney, public defenders, parking enforcement officer, magistrate judges, emergency medical service personnel and parking enforcement officers).
- Assaults that are second degree felonies include:
attempts to intentionally or knowingly injure someone with a deadly weapon;
an attempt to injure a school employee, such as a teacher or school board member while they are acting in the scope of their employment or because of their relationship to the school;
attempts to menace those people mentioned above while they are in the course of duty;
using tear or other noxious gases or incapacitation devices against any of the people mentioned above while they are acting in the scope of their duties.
A felony of the first degree can result in a sentence of up to 20 years and a felony of the second degree can result in a sentence of up to 10 years.
What To Do If You Have Been Charged
Aggravated assault is a very serious crime. If a police officer is arresting you for this offense, it is in your best interest to behave as calmly as possible. Make sure that whatever is said to you, you do not argue with the officer or try to change their mind about arresting you.
You will be facing several nights in jail before a preliminary hearing is held and bond is set.
While you are in jail, the police may question you or make offers such as suggesting they will let you go temporarily on your own recognizance in exchange for information or an admission of guilt. Be careful — you may be trading thirty days of freedom for years in jail.
As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you. If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions. And you should not consider any offers without the advice of your attorney.
It is also crucial that you have no contact with the alleged victim. If the case goes to trial, their testimony can be very harmful and if you communicate with them they may take your words out of context or twist them.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
An aggravated assault absolutely requires that you have an attorney who can provide a vigorous defense. Your lawyer should start with a careful examination of the alleged facts to determine if you have been charged lawfully.
- Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case. The attorney will be trying to find evidence that shows your actions were legal or unintentional.
- Be sure to give your attorney a list of everyone who was a witness to the action that resulted in your charges or who was there when you were arrested if that occurred in a different place.
For many convictions the prosecutor has to prove that it was your intent to harm the alleged victim. Your lawyer will investigate any evidence that points to your state of mind at the time. If drugs or alcohol were involved, these substances may have impaired you and it will make it harder for the prosecution to prove you had criminal intent.
In Pennsylvania, you have the right to argue that you acted in self-defense. However, if you are charged with harming an employee of the courts or prison system you will not be able to use this defense.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against an aggravated assault charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecution. If the prosecution has a strong case, you need an attorney who will work with you to determine the best course of action.
Pennsylvania Aggravated Assault Law
Aggravated assault is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18 Chapter 27. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that you were acting in self-defense and that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence or determine if we should try the case in court. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.