College parties are a fixture of campus life in West Chester. But they can sometimes lead to unfortunate legal problems, like underage drinking, disorderly conduct, and assault.

If you were involved in an assault at a party, you need to take your charges seriously. The consequences could change your life. You could face time behind bars, probation, thousands in fines, and a violent crime attached to your permanent criminal record.

At Skinner Law Firm, we understand the challenges you’re facing and know how to avoid the most serious repercussions. We’ll fight for your rights and make sure you get a fair result. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecution.

In West Chester or anywhere in Chester County, contact Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation today.

Understanding Assault Charges

Generally speaking, assault is categorized according to the harm inflicted or intended. It’s important to note that you can be charged with assault even if you didn’t actually harm someone.

Most assault cases in Pennsylvania involve simple assault. Under Pennsylvania law, simple assault is charged whenever law enforcement believes that you attempted to cause any bodily harm, either intentionally or recklessly. However, you can also be charged with simple assault for:

  • Negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon.
  • Putting someone in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by way of “physical menace.”

Aggravated assault is more serious. Aggravated assault is charged when law enforcement believes that you attempted to cause serious bodily harm. This is defined as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

While most assaults that occur at college parties are simple assaults, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you caused any bodily injury to a law enforcement officer whatsoever. While the prosecution must prove that you intended to inflict injury, you can imagine that these charges are often filed regardless of whether you intended to cause harm or not.

The Consequences of an Assault Conviction

Most simple assault charges are classified as second degree misdemeanors. This means that if you are convicted, you face the following penalties:

  • Up to two years in prison
  • A fine of up to $5,000

However, if the assault arose from a fight that both parties consented to, your assault will be charged as a third degree misdemeanor. If convicted of a third degree simple assault charge, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in prison
  • A fine of up to $2,500

Aggravated assault charges carry much more serious penalties – aggravated assault is a felony in Pennsylvania. If it is alleged that you intentionally or recklessly caused serious bodily injury, you will be charged with a first degree felony. If convicted, you face:

  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $25,000

If you are charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, you will be charged with a second degree felony. A conviction could carry:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $25,000

As you can see, the penalties for even a simple assault charge can be quite serious. In addition to time in prison and thousands in fines, you will also have a criminal conviction on your permanent record that will be available to the public. This could negatively impact your personal and professional reputation, making it difficult to find a job after graduation.

Possible Disciplinary Action from Your School

If you were charged with assault at a party, an additional complication could be disciplinary action from your school. For instance, if convicted, West Chester University may place you on probation, revoke your financial aid or scholarships, or even try to expel you.

Depending on the specific policy at your school, they may take action even if you aren’t ultimately convicted of assault in court. As a result, we strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney who has experience with charges that stem from an assault at a party to make sure your future is protected.

Contact a West Chester Assault Lawyer

If you are charged with committing an assault at a party, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced assault attorney right away. With considerable experience helping people in similar situations, attorney Michael Skinner will evaluate your case and help you understand your options. Invest in your future today by calling Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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