Simple assault what can a lawyer do for me?
Physical assault can include threatening someone with physical harm, punching someone, or participating in a brawl. If you have been charged with simple assault, however, it’s important to understand the laws in your state. Failing to take the proper steps may result in high fines, severe penalties, or prison time.
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was recently charged with simple assault in the State of Pennsylvania. I do not want to go to jail. Do I need to hire a criminal defense laws, and if so, what can they do for me?”
What is an assault?
Although laws vary by state, an assault is generally any action which causes bodily harm or a threat to commit bodily harm, combined with the ability to carry out the harm. Laws generally require that the threats are made with the intention of creating apprehension in the potential victim. Victims must be aware of the danger. The intent to kill or harm, however, is not required to prove assault.
For example, words alone may not constitute assault, but if the words are combined with another action, such as a raised fist or rushing towards the victim, this may cause enough apprehension of violence that it could rise to the level of assault. Holding a gun to a person’s head could also be considered an assault because the perpetrator has created apprehension of harm, and the victim has a reasonable fear of injury. The intent to actually shoot or kill the victim is irrelevant.
Defending against assault charges
If you have been charged with assault it’s time to contact a criminal defense lawyer and discuss how to defend yourself against the charges. Assuming there were no serious injuries, you may be able to argue the following:
- You did not intend to harm the other person and there was no apprehension or fear created in the victim.
- You were mistakenly identified and you did not commit the alleged action.
- You were justified in committing the offense (i.e. self-defense).
If you are unable to successfully defend against the charges, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to have the charges reduced or negotiate a plea agreement.
Penalties for Simple Assault
For more information about the specific penalties you will face for a Simple Assault charge you will need to review your state’s laws. State laws will vary.
For example, in the State of Pennsylvania, a Simple Assault charge with generally be considered a Misdemeanor 2 charge. If you assaulted a child, however, the charges could increase to a Misdemeanor 1. If the assault charge resulted from a fight in which both parties mutually consented to participate, the charges could be reduced to a Misdemeanor 3 charge. Penalties for a Misdemeanor 2 charge can include up to 2 years in prison, while a Misdemeanor 3 charge could include up to 1 year in prison.
Aggravated Assault and severe penalties
Charges, fines, and penalties can be substantially increased if you are charged with any type of Felony Assault charge. For example, if you are charged with Aggravated Assault the state may decide to charge you with a Felony 1 charge, which can result in up to 20 years in prison, or a Felony 2 charge, which can result in up to 10 years in prison.
Why do I need a lawyer?
Defense lawyers are skilled at reviewing criminal evidence against defendants and can determine if the state has a strong case against you. Maybe the eye witness testimony is not strong or the state did not read you your rights prior to an interrogation? Maybe evidence was gathered without getting a proper warrant? Discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer before making any statements to the police about your case.
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