Few circumstances are as intimidating as being accused of a violent crime like assault, child abuse, or homicide. These allegations are frightening, particularly when you consider that Pennsylvania harshly punishes violence. The penalties include long prison sentences and a life-long stigma of being labeled as a violent offender. Do not take these allegations lightly. Consult an aggressive and highly-skilled criminal defense attorney.
You should not assume violent charges will result in a conviction. There are ways to defend yourself. By working with a violent crime defense lawyer, you improve your chance of having the charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. You also give yourself a fighting chance of winning an acquittal at trial or mitigating the consequences of a potential conviction.
If a prosecutor has charged you with a violent crime in West Chester, Honey Brook, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Wayne, Coatesville, Exton, or anywhere in Chester County, contact attorney Michael J. Skinner. As a former Chester County prosecutor and veteran defense attorney, he has a deep insight into all aspects of violent crime defense in Pennsylvania. Call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or contact us online to request a free and confidential consultation.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2501 & §2502)
Pennsylvania defines criminal homicide as intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causing another person’s death. This offense is classified as either murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.
A prosecutor will charge you with murder in the first degree if you allegedly committed an intentional killing. Murder in the second degree constitutes a killing that occurred when you were engaged in a felony offense. Murder in the third degree is a first-degree felony, and encompasses all other types of criminal homicide.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2503 & §2504)
A prosecutor can charge you with a first-degree felony for voluntary manslaughter for allegedly killing someone without lawful justification. At the time, you must have been acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation.
A prosecutor may charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor for involuntary manslaughter if you while performing a lawful or unlawful act recklessly, cause another person’s death. However, if the victim was under 12 years old and in your care, then a prosecutor will charge you with a second-degree felony.
(75 PA Cons Stat §3732)
A prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony if you recklessly or with gross negligence drive a vehicle and cause another person’s death.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2701)
A prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor offense if you:
Typically, a prosecutor will charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor. However, if you were involved in a fight with someone who agreed to the conduct, a prosecutor will charge you with a third-degree misdemeanor.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2702)
Aggravated assault covers more serious violent behavior or attempts at violence than simple assault. A prosecutor can charge you with a first- or second-degree felony if you cause or attempt to cause someone serious bodily injury, cause someone ham with a deadly weapon, or assault certain professionals, such as teachers, police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, district attorneys, public defenders, government officials, elected officials, etc.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2702.1)
A prosecutor will charge you with a first-degree felony if you try to cause or intentionally or knowingly cause a law enforcement officer bodily harm by discharging a firearm. For a prosecutor to obtain a conviction, they must prove the officer was performing their duties, and you knew they were an officer.
(75 PA Cons Stat §3735.1)
A prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree felony if you negligently cause another person serious bodily injury by driving while intoxicated. If at the time of the DUI accident, your driver’s license had been suspended or revoked, you face an additional two years of incarceration.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2705)
A prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor if you recklessly engage in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2709)
You can be charged with a summary offense or misdemeanor if you engage in conduct with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person. Unlawful conduct can include hitting, kicking, or shoving another person or threatening to harm them; following another person in or around public places; sending lewd or obscene messages; repeatedly communicating in an anonymous manner or at inconvenient hours.
Harassment also includes cyber harassment of a minor. This means engaging in electronic communications or publishing content on social medial meant to make disparaging comments about the child’s physical characteristics, sexuality, sexual activity, or mental or physical health or to threaten harm.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2709.1)
A first offense of stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor. Stalking includes engaging in a course of conduct, such as following another person or repeatedly communicating with them, under circumstances that demonstrate your intent to place the victim in fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2718)
Strangulation is knowingly or intentionally impeding a person’s breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to the throat or neck or blocking the person’s nose and mouth. A prosecutor could charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor for strangulation or a second-degree felony if the victim were a family member, household member, or someone dependent on your care.
A prosecutor can charge you with a first-degree felony for strangulation if, at the time of the offense, you were under an active protection from abuse order or similar court order that included the victim.
(18 PA Cons Stat §2901)
A prosecutor can charge you with kidnapping if you unlawfully remove a person a substantial distance from the place they were found or confine a person for a substantial period in isolation, and you intended to:
Kidnapping is a first-degree felony.
(18 PA Cons Stat §3701)
Robbery entails committing theft and removing the property from a person by force; causing someone serious bodily injury; threatening harm; threatening a serious felony, or taking money from a financial institution by making demands of an employee. Depending on the facts, a prosecutor may charge you with a first- or second-degree felony.
(18 PA Cons Stat §4304)
A prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor or felony if you, as a parent, guardian, or other adult in charge of taking care of a minor, knowingly violate the duty of care, protection, or support and endanger the child’s welfare. This offense would be a felony if you created a substantial risk of harm or death.
(23 PA Cons Stat §6102)
Pennsylvania does not have one distinct domestic violence statute. Instead, certain violent crimes committed against people with particular relationships constitute domestic violence and can be more harshly punished.
Pennsylvania defines “abuse” as one of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or individuals who share parenthood:
(23 PA Cons Stat §6303(b.1))
In Pennsylvania, child abuse is defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing:
Depending on the allegations against you, a prosecutor may charge you with a misdemeanor or felony based on the specific facts of your case. You also will be investigated by Child Welfare Services.
(23 PA Cons Stat §§6101—6122)
If another person can prove you harmed them or are likely to harm them, then they can obtain a protection from abuse order against you. You may know of these as a restraining order.
A prosecutor can charge you with indirect criminal contempt of court (23 PA Cons Stat §6114) if you violate a PFA order. If the judge finds you guilty of content, you can be punished with up to six months in jail or supervised probation and a fine between $300 and $1,000.
(18 PA Cons Stat §5104)
A prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor if, with the intent to prevent a law enforcement officer from arresting you, you create a substantial risk of bodily injury for the officer or anyone else, or you act in a way that requires or justifies substantial force to overcome.
When a prosecutor charges you, or a grand jury indicts you for a violent crime, it is important to talk with a violent crime attorney about the level of the charge and the potential penalties.
Pennsylvania penal law dictates the minimum and maximum penalty for each offense:
Life imprisonment or death.
At least 10 years in prison.
Up to 20 years in prison, fines up to $25,000.
Up to 10 years in prison, fines up to $25,000.
Up to seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000.
Up to five years in prison, fines up to $10,000.
Up to two years in prison, fines up to $5,000.
Up to one year in prison, fines up to $2,000.
Up to 90 days in jail, fines up to $300.
Other factors can also influence your potential sentence. Every crime has an Offense Gravity Score between one and eight, which tells a judge or jury how serious the law takes that offense.
Each crime also has a Prior Record Score or m, 1, or 2. “M” is one-half point. When you are convicted of an offense, the scores for each offense are added up.
Once the Offense Gravity Score and your Prior Record Score are determined, a pre-existing matrix is used to determine your presumptive sentence.
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After explaining your situation to a violent crime attorney at Skinner Law Firm, we will determine if there are any defenses or mitigating circumstances applicable to your case.
Some possible defenses to violent crimes include:
West Chester Police Department
401 East Gay Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Phone: (610) 696-2700
Title 18: Crimes and Offenses – Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes contains a majority of the state’s laws regarding violent crimes. Other offenses can be found in different titles of the statutes.
An Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection Pennsylvania’s chapter of AARDVARC provides resources and information for fighting and preventing family and relationship violence, sexual violence, and child abuse.
Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere STRYVE was created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent youth violence and provide resources and information.
A violent crime conviction is not guaranteed. You always have rights and options to consider, but you likely only have one chance to successfully defend yourself against a violent crime accusation. But early intervention from an experienced lawyer will be critical to your success.
With an extensive history of successfully defending people in violent crime cases, the Skinner Law Firm is ready to review the details, examine the evidence, and fight to protect you.
Contact us today anywhere in Chester County, PA at (610) 436-1410 for a free consultation about how your case can end favorably.