PITTSBURGH AGGRAVATED ASSAULT LAWYER
Aggravated Assault is a serious felony crime of violence in Pennsylvania, and one that is often charged improperly. Our clients charged with this offense frequently tell us that the police have ignored their side of the story, or have charged them based upon minor physical contact with police.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT DEFINED
Aggravated Assault offenses are found under Title 18 Section 2702 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. Aggravated Assault charges are graded as either a 1st Degree Felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison or a 2nd Degree Felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, if one or more of the following acts is committed:
- Person attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
- Person attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a police officer or other public servant who acts within in the scope of their duties;
- Person attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes regular bodily injury to a police officer or other public servant who acts within the scope of their duties;
- Person attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;
- Person attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a teaching staff member, school board member or other school employee who acts in the scope of their duties;
- Person attempts by physical menace (i.e. frightening act) to put a police officer or other public servant, acting within the scope of their duties, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
- Person uses tear or noxious gas or uses an electric or electronic incapacitation device against a police officer or public servant acting within the scope of their duties
- Person attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to a child less than six years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older
- Person attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a child less than 13 years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older.
HOW IS AGGRAVATED ASSAULT DIFFERENT FROM SIMPLE ASSAULT?
Aggravated assault is more serious than simple assault. Typically the most significant difference between Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault is the level of injury caused. Most aggravated assault cases require proof of serious bodily injury, which occurs when the victim nearly dies, suffers long-term impairment of the use of a body part, or suffers from serious permanent disfigurement. Simple assault requires lesser proof of bodily injury, which is substantial pain or impairment of physical condition.
A simple assault committed on certain types of actors is treated as an aggravated assault. For example, a person who causes minor injuries to a police officer or child may be charged with felony aggravated assault.
Also, if a deadly weapon is used to cause minor injuries, the perpetrator may be charged with aggravated assault.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON POLICE OFFICERS
Police officers are entitled to special protections under PA criminal law. One of those protections allows for a simple assault on a regular citizen to be treated as a felony Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer. For example, a person who throws a punch at a bouncer and police officer can be charged with simple assault for attempting to cause bodily injury to the bouncer, and aggravated assault for attempting to cause injury to the police officer.
Unfortunately, this protection is often abused due to overcharging. For example, individuals who may wiggle or kick their legs during an arrest will often find themselves charged with a felony aggravated assault if trivial physical contact occurs.
HOW WILL THE PROSECUTION TRY AND PROVE AGGRAVATED ASSAULT?
There are many ways by which the prosecution will attempt to prove your guilt at trial. First, they will call witnesses to testify against you regarding the events that happened on the date of the incident. Second, the victim will be asked to describe his or her injuries and physical limitations since the incident occurred. Third, the Commonwealth may call one or more doctors to testify about the extent of the injuries sustained by the other party in an attempt to meet the serious bodily injury criteria. Fourth, the Commonwealth may introduce physical evidence against you, such as weapons, blood stained garments, and photographs.
In cases where the victim did not actually sustain serious bodily injury, the Commonwealth will try and establish that you had the intention of committing serious bodily injury through your actions and words. For example, an actor who repeatedly strikes a victim while yelling "I'll kill you," may be found to have the specific intent of causing serious bodily injury to the victim, even though the victim's injuries may not be severe.
HOW ZUCKERMAN LAW FIRM CAN HELP FIGHT YOUR AGGRAVATED ASSAULT CHARGE
Don't let one false accusation or mistake define your future. When charged with Aggravated Assault, you need the right attorney to make sure that your side of the story is heard loud and clear. You need an attorney who will fully prepare for trial while working behind the scenes to negotiate the best possible result for your case.
In appropriate circumstances, you may be eligible for diversionary programs and charge reductions, including:
- Completion of Anger Management Classes for a withdrawal by the magistrate;
- Plea to a Summary Offense before the magistrate, ending your case early with a fine and court costs.
- Admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, allowing you to avoid a criminal record;
- Plea to a Simple Assault charge for probation;
- Entry into Veteran's Court and Mental Health Court Programs.
If you are charged with Aggravated Assault, remain silent and immediately contact the Zuckerman Law Firm, LLC at 412-447-5580 for a free consultation. Attorney Dave Zuckerman is a former Pittsburgh assault crimes prosecutor, and will fight for the best possible result.