Simple Assault Has Different Levels

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By F. Clay Merris, Esq.

In Pennsylvania, there are various ways to be charged with Simple Assault. The charge can be graded as a misdemeanor of the third degree, with one year of probation being the likely worst case scenario, or, on the other end of the spectrum, can be charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree with a very real possibility of jail time and a maximum punishment of five years.

The least serious type of Simple Assault is “mutual fray” which yields the misdemeanor of the third-degree grading. This is what it sounds like – two or more people mutually get into a fight. No one person is necessarily the aggressor, it is just a fight amongst people. A typical example is a bar fight. The likely sentence is one year of probation.

The most serious type of Simple Assault is when the alleged victim of the assault is less than 12 years old. In this case, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree. It is clear why our legislature would consider something like child abuse against a small child to deserve a more harsh punishment than two bar patrons of similar ages engaging in fisticuffs deserve. A conviction for this kind of offense will usually result in jail time.

There is also Simple Assault graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree, which carries a maximum punishment of two years. This charge is appropriate when police allege that a person:

  1. attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
  2. negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;
  3. attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or
  4. conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.

Again, in each of these scenarios, if the victim is under 12 years old, the charge escalates to a misdemeanor of the first degree.

If you are involved in a Simple Assault prosecution, contact Scaringi Law’s experienced criminal defense practitioners.

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