West Chester

Aggravated Assault Lawyer

If a prosecutor charges you with aggravated assault in Pennsylvania, you face severe penalties, including incarceration, probations, and fines. If convicted, you would have a criminal record labeling you a violent felon for life. With such significant consequences, you need to take the allegations seriously and work with an aggravated assault attorney immediately to build an aggressive defense.

Following an arrest for aggravated assault or any felony assault, contact Skinner Law Firm immediately. Experienced violent crimes attorney Michael J. Skinner will carefully scrutinize the alleged facts of your case. As a former Chester County prosecutor, he will review every move made by law enforcement. This investigation may expose holes in the case that could lead to your charges being reduced or dismissed. He also will identify the strongest possible defense to use at trial, if necessary. If you have been charged with aggravated assault in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, contact Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 today and schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Aggravated Assault Law in Pennsylvania

You can face felony aggravated assault charges in PA for a wide range of behaviors, including whether or not the alleged victim suffered any harm. In most cases, you can be charged for attempting to cause someone harm, even if your alleged attempt failed. When you are accused of a serious violent offense, you must contact an aggravated assault attorney to learn more about the law and how to defend yourself.

Under 18 PA Cons Stat §2702(a), a prosecutor can bring aggravated assault charges if you:

  • Attempt to cause someone else serious bodily injury or cause another person injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances demonstrating an extreme indifference to the value of human life;
  • Attempt to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to certain officers, agents, or employees or a public transportation employee who is performing their duties;
  • Attempt to cause or intentionally or knowingly cause bodily injury to certain officers, agents, or employees in performance of their duties;
  • Attempt to cause or intentionally or knowingly cause another person bodily injury with a deadly weapon;
  • Attempt to cause or intentionally or knowingly cause bodily injury to a teacher, board member, or other employee of a public school;
  • Attempt by physical menace to put certain officers, agents, or employees while in performance of their duties in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • Use tear or noxious gas or use an electric incapacitation device against certain officers, agents, or employees;
  • Attempt to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to a child younger than 6 years old when you are 18 years or older; or
  • Attempt to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to a child younger than 13 years old when you are 18 years or older.

Certain Officers, Agents, and Employees

Pennsylvania law provides a long list of protected officers, agents, and employees, including:

  • Police offices
  • Firefighters
  • County adult and juvenile probation and parole officers
  • Sheriff and deputy sheriffs
  • Liquor control enforcement agents
  • Employees of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, juvenile detention center
  • Judge
  • Attorney general or deputy attorney general
  • District attorney or assistant district attorney
  • Public defender or assistant public defender
  • State or local law enforcement official or their employees
  • Emergency medical services personnel
  • Parking enforcement officers
  • Magisterial district judges
  • Constables and deputy constables
  • Psychiatric aides
  • Teaching staff and school board members of public schools
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant governor
  • Auditor general
  • State treasurer
  • Member of the general assembly
  • Department of Environmental Protection employees
  • Private detectives
  • County children and youth social services employee
  • Public utility or electric cooperative employee
  • Wildlife conservation officer or deputy officer of the Pennsylvania Game Commission
  • Waterways conservation officer or deputy officer of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Bodily Injury v. Serious Bodily Injury

The definition of aggravated assault involves either bodily injury or serious bodily injury. Pennsylvania’s definitions of bodily injury and serious bodily injury are found in 18 PA Cons Stat §2301.

Bodily injury means any impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.

Serious bodily injury means any injury that causes a:

  • Serious, permanent disfigurement;
  • Protracted loss or impairment to a part of the body or organ; or
  • Substantial risk of death.

If you believe the alleged victim is exaggerating their injuries, talk with aggravated assault attorney about the likelihood of reducing the felony charge to a less severe assault offense.

Defining a Deadly Weapon

Pennsylvania’s definition of a deadly weapon is also found in 18 PA Cons Stat §2301 and includes:

  • Any loaded or unloaded firearm;
  • Any device designed as a weapon and capable of causing serious bodily injury or death; or
  • Any device or instrument which, when used as intended or in a certain manner, is calculated or likely to produce serious bodily injury or death.

When a prosecutor accuses you of having a deadly weapon that does not exist or claims that an everyday item is a deadly weapon, call an aggravated assault attorney and discuss how this aggravating factor can be eliminated.

Aggravated Assault Penalties

If you are accused of 18 PA Cons Stat §2702(a)(1), (2), and (9), a prosecutor will charge you with a first-degree felony. These aggravated assault crimes involve serious bodily injury.

If you are accused of 18 PA Cons Stat §2702(a)(3), (4), (5), (6), (7), or (8), a prosecutor will charge you with a second-degree felony. These aggravated assaults typically require bodily injury or attempt to cause bodily injury—not serious bodily injury.

The potential sentences for aggravated assault are:

  • For a first-degree felony: Up to 20 years in prison and fines reaching $25,000.
  • For a second-degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

If convicted, you do not automatically face one or two decades in prison. The Offense Gravity Score and your Prior Record Score will significantly impact your presumptive sentence.

The various aggravated assault charges have differing gravity scores—typically two, three, or four. For example, attempting or causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon is two points while causing serious bodily injury is four points.

If you have one or more convictions on your record, then the scores related to these offenses will be totaled. Every crime in Pennsylvania has a score of m, one, or two. “M” is one-half point.

The judge reviews the basic sentencing matrix based on these two scores. The matrix determines the length and type of punishment, including whether you should be sentenced to boot camp, supervised, probation, county jail, or prison.

Because the final penalties for aggravated assault vary dramatically, talk with a lawyer about your potential sentence based on the level of the offense, the gravity score, your criminal record, and any mitigating or aggravating factors in your case.

Defending Against Aggravated Assault

To be convicted, the prosecution must prove every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” means the prosecution must prove that, other than some completely far-fetched possibility, their version of events is how things really happened. The judge or jurors must not have any doubts that the prosecution’s version of events is true. If there are any doubts, you should not be convicted.

One or more defense strategies may be effective in raising doubt and winning an acquittal. Depending on the facts of your case, your aggravated assault attorney may argue you acted in self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property. In a self-defense situation,  you are not required to back down when someone attacks you, people in your vicinity, or your property. You can use an amount of force reasonable to avoid injury or death.

Other possible defenses are a mistake of identity or false allegations. You may not be the perpetrator who threatened or hurt the victim. Or, the victim may not be hurt at all. Another person may be falsely accusing you of assault based on revenge, an attempt to influence a divorce or child custody battle, or for some other ulterior motive.

Call an Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer

Being accused of causing someone serious harm is frightening. Naturally, you’ll want to explain the situation and clear things up. However, we advise against making statements to the police without speaking to a lawyer first. You deserve the chance to tell your story without sacrificing your right to protect yourself. If you have been charged with aggravated assault in or around Chester County, PA, an experienced West Chester aggravated assault attorney at Skinner Law Firm could make the difference.

Call Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule your free consultation.