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The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault

It is unfortunate, but every year in the state of Pennsylvania, the act of assault is ranked as one of the most frequently charged crimes. When you hear the term assault, you may be thinking of a fight between two people who have disagreement or even domestic violence cases. Physical actions in these instances do fall into the assault category, but an assault can fall into a much wider range of interactions between two or more people.

Just like there are different classifications of assault, there can be different consequences for an assault conviction based on the designation you were charged with. The penalties for assault can range from being put on probation to as much as 20 to 40 years in jail.

Simple assault

As the name implies, basic acts of physical violence or intent can be classified as simple assault. A simple assault is when bodily injury:

  • Was attempted, had been caused intentionally or recklessness caused an injury.
  • Was caused by the negligent use of a deadly weapon.
  • Was attempted by use of physical aggression to intimidate another person with bodily injury.
  • Was caused when a defendant penetrates a police officer or prison official with a hypodermic needle during a search or arrest.

A simple assault typically is a misdemeanor and can carry a sentence of up to two years in jail and a fine up to $5,000.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a much more serious crime that can involve using a weapon, using physical force against a police officer or when someone intentionally causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury. An aggravated assault can be listed in either the first or second degree. Examples of each designation can be explained this way, a second-degree felony charge could be make if someone cut another person in the arm with a knife. But if the person stabbed someone in the chest with an intent to cause serious harm, it would most likely be a first-degree felony charge. It should be noted, that if a person was trying to stab a person in the chest to cause catastrophic harm but missed and only made a cut on the persons arm, they would most likely still be charged with a first-degree felony.

Since an aggravated assault is a felony, penalties can range from a minimum of ten years in prison for second degree charges with a $25,000 fine or up to 20 years prison and a $25,000 fine for a first-degree conviction.

Knowing the stark contrasts in penalties for the different types of assaults can be important if you find yourself in an altercation. Discussing your situation with an attorney will give you the chance to explore all possible defense options for your case.

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