Simple Assault


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If you are charged with simple assault, you are facing serious consequences that can include hefty fines and up to five years in prison. Hiring a skilled simple assault lawyer can help you understand your charges and build a solid defense to ensure your best outcome.

As a highly-experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, Michael Fienman knows how assault and domestic violence charges progress through the criminal process and what it takes to build the strongest possible defense. Whatever the situation, it is important to protect your rights and ensure your story is told.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation with attorney Fienman, call (215) 839-9529 or submit the details of your case through our online form.

What You Need To Know About Simple Assault

  • Simple assault is a misdemeanor meant to protect people from being attacked. An assault is not a crime against property – it’s a crime against a person.
  • You can be charged with simple assault if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to somebody else. If you punch someone in the jaw during an argument, that’s simple assault.
  • You can also face these charges if you caused injury with a deadly weapon.
  • Additionally, simple assault covers an attempt to injure another person. If you grab a knife and try to stab somebody, but you miss, you can still be charged with simple assault.
  • If you hide, or try to hide, a hypodermic needle on yourself AND you intentionally use that needle to stick anyone with the authority to arrest you, including police, or someone who works in a jail, detention facility or a county hospital, you can be charged with simple assault.

Simple assault does not always mean you physically laid a hand on someone – you can be charged for menacing a person, causing them to fear that they are in imminent danger of being injured. Because you don’t have to touch person, it is possible that someone with a grudge against you may claim you intended them harm, even if you didn’t. This kind of accusation may not be enough to get you convicted of a crime, but it can still result in your arrest and charges being filed against you.

Misdemeanor Degrees and What They Mean

  • Any charge falling under the definition of simple assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree. However, you can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree if the alleged victim is under 12 years old and you are 18 years old or older.
  • If you get into a fight that was mutually started by you and any other participant, you can be charged with a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Misdemeanors carry the following possible punishments in Pennsylvania:

  • Five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for a misdemeanor of the first degree
  • Two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 for a misdemeanor of the second degree
  • One year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000 for a misdemeanor of the third degree

What To Do If You Are Charged With Simple Assault

Simple assault charges may seem minimal, but they must be taken seriously. Your best bet is to hire a simple assault lawyer right away, so they can immediately begin a thorough analysis of every facet of your case. They should answer questions such as:

  • Were your actions really “intentional, knowing, and reckless”? If you didn’t mean to actually cause the assault, your behavior could be considered unintentional.
  • Can the prosecution actually prove that your actions were intentional?
  • Was the alleged victim actually injured by you, or are they trying to settle some score?

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. Be sure to give them a list of everyone who was a witness to the action that resulted in your charges. Look around the area where the alleged assault occurred, and see if there are surveillance cameras that may have either helpful or harmful pictures.

Possible Defenses Against Simple Assault Charges


Often, people accused of simple assault were simply acting in self-defense. Luckily, Pennsylvania affords you the right to argue that you were protecting yourself. The law allows you to defend yourself if the weapon or force in question is of the same degree as what was used against you. For example, you can’t fire a gun at your attacker if they are coming at you with just their fists.

Provocation Defense

Pennsylvania law also has a “provocation defense.” If a person deliberately provoked you into attacking them, your charges may be diminished.

How a Lawyer Will Help

A simple assault conviction can lead to fines and jail time, but it may also affect your life in other ways. Having a record that alludes to a potentially violent past can hurt your chances to get a job or attend a college. Even years later, you could suffer the negative consequences of your conviction.

When you are up against a simple assault charge, know that you will be facing off against an experienced and determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who is just as skillful and unfaltering in your corner. A simple assault lawyer at Fienman Defense will work relentlessly on your case to establish the best course of action. We know that a defense is only as good as the evidence surrounding it, and we will rigorously pore over the facts of your case to uncover the most favorable outcome.

Our simple assault lawyers have helped numerous clients in your same situation. Call us today at (215) 839-9529 to see what we can do for you.

Pennsylvania Simple Assault Law

Simple assault is described and defined under Title 18 Chapter 27 of The Pennsylvania Criminal Code. 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.