An assault conviction carries serious consequences. Even the lowest level assault charge can mean prison time, hefty fines, and a bleak future. But what many people charged with assault don’t realize is the case may not be as strong as the police and prosecutors say it is. It takes a knowledgeable attorney to sort through the facts and find the errors that can result in the dismissal of charges or an acquittal.
That’s why it’s critical to get advice immediately from an experienced Pennsylvania assault defense lawyer. At Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano, our knowledgeable legal team has years of experience handling such complicated cases in Scranton, Dunmore, Kingston, Honesdale, and other communities throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. We understand Pennsylvania’s assault laws and know how to build a strong legal case. Remember, the sooner you contact our law firm, the sooner we can get your life back on track.
The Types of Assault Charges
There are two specific types of assault charges in Pennsylvania — simple and aggravated. In both cases, using a weapon, especially a firearm, can significantly worsen the severity of the punishments you face.
Simple assault: In an act of simple assault, the prosecutor will need to show that the defendant had intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly attempted to cause bodily harm against another individual. As a misdemeanor, the penalties for a simple assault depend on its severity.
- Third-degree misdemeanor, such as a bar fight, is up to one year in prison.
- Second-degree misdemeanor, such as getting into a fight with a deadly weapon, is one to two years in prison.
- First-degree misdemeanor, such as assaulting a child, is one to five years in prison.
Aggravated assault: Considered a felony, an aggravated assault occurs when the defendant has caused bodily harm with disregard for human life. An aggravated assault charge can only fall under either a first or second degree, depending on who was involved in the incident:
- A second-degree felony, such as severely injuring an individual, carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison
- A first-degree felony, such as assaulting a police officer, carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison
In assault charges, it is important to remember that when the assault is against a public employee or official, the charge is automatically increased to aggravated assault, regardless if it resulted in serious or mere bodily injury.
Defenses to Assault Charges
Though it is unlikely to get off without penalty for an assault charge, there are potential defenses to why the assault took place. The three most common forms of defense in assault charges are:
- Self-Defense: While many will try a self-defense claim, it is important to remember that you will be tasked with showing you did not provoke the action in the first place.
- Defense of Others: If you are involved in an incident where you feared for the safety and well-being of others, the defense of others’ claim may be a practical defense. However, you must show you had no choice but to use force against another person.
- Defense of Property: When it comes to purse-snatching, home invasions, or pick-pocketing, you may be able to use the defense of property claim, so long as you can prove it was in response to the wrongdoing of the other person.
Why Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano?
Our experienced assault defense attorneys can analyze your case to make sure you are facing the right assault charge. Although this might seem minor, it could be the difference between several months and several years behind bars.
If you are facing aggravated assault charges, our lawyers can protect your rights. Often, prosecutors use bullying tactics to make defendants take plea deals. They do this if their case is not as strong as it should be.
In reality, an experienced assault defense attorney from Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano can often find holes in the prosecutor’s case and make sure you get a reasonable sentence.
Contact Our NEPA Assault Defense Lawyer Now
Assault cases can be complicated. Your case will likely come down to your word versus someone else’s testimony. Don’t simply assume that everything will work out in your favor, even if you did nothing wrong or were simply defending yourself. Contact us so that we can help.
Remember, police and prosecutors may have made mistakes in building a case against you. Sometimes, the evidence was collected illegally. Sometimes, police conduct searches without obtaining warrants.
Before you accept a plea or try to explain your case to law enforcement, talk to us. When the stakes are high, you need the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. If you are facing assault charges in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, or Pike counties, don’t wait another second. Contact the Scranton assault defense attorneys at Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano today.