Understanding the Difference Between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault

Two men fighting

There are two categories of assault in Pennsylvania: simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple Assault is defined as when the accused attempts to cause or intentionally or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or attempts to put another in fear of eminent serious bodily injury. Simple assault is further classified based on its severity. Simple assault is normally a second degree misdemeanor, unless it is committed during the course of a consensual fight when it is graded as a third degree misdemeanor, or if against a child under the age of twelve by an adult twenty-one years of age or older when it is graded as a first degree misdemeanor.

Aggravated Assault is when the accused attempts to cause or intentionally or recklessly causes serious bodily injury and is graded as a first degree felony. A second degree felony only requires bodily injury. The difference between assault being graded as a first degree felony and second degree felony is the word serious or an extreme indifference to human life. In addition any physical contact with a police or probation officer will always be charged as aggravated assault.

Some common defenses to Assault charges are lack of intent to harm, no bodily injury occurred, self-defense, provocation, insanity or intoxication but the intoxication cannot be voluntary.

While the difference between simple assault and aggravated assault may seem minor there is a dramatic difference in the potential sentences if the accused is found guilty. Especially since Aggravated Assault is either a 1st or 2nd degree felony. The maximum penalty for a felony, misdemeanor and summary offenses are as follows:

Felony 1st Degree20 years in prison
Felony 2nd Degree10 years in prison
Felony 3rd Degree7 years in prison
Misdemeanor 1st Degree5 years in prison
Misdemeanor 2nd Degree2 years in prison
Misdemeanor 3rd Degree1 year in prison
Summary Offense90 days in county jail

If you are charged with Assault, call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604, of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

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