Facing Assault Charges in Allegheny County? We Can Help.
Heated arguments can escalate fast and no one is perfect. Assault charges in Pittsburgh can happen to anyone. And whether it was a mistake or a misunderstanding, a single incident should not define the rest of your life. But no situation is beyond repair. A Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney from Worgul, Sarna and Ness is ready to help.
We understand that situations involving assault, domestic violence, or threatening behavior are troubling. But you have options to consider. Let our lawyers for assault charges review what happened and explain your next steps. Call (412) 281-2146 today for a free and confidential consultation.
Pennsylvania Assault Charges
18 Pa. Code §2701 defines assault and crimes associated with assault. This includes simple assault, aggravated assault, stalking, strangulation, and other violent behaviors.
Put simply, assault refers to trying to cause or knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person. The law also covers:
- Negligently causing bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- Putting another person in fear of serious bodily injury
- Concealing or attempting to conceal a hypodermic needle and penetrating a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, or hospital employee.
Assault Charges with No Injuries in Pittsburgh
Keep in mind you could be charged with misdemeanor assault or simple assault even if the alleged victim suffered no injuries. You could also be charged with assault if you carelessly hurt someone with a deadly weapon. For example, if you were not careful with a knife and ended up cutting someone.
Aggravated Assault Charges in Pittsburgh, PA
When serious injuries do result or a deadly weapon was involved, it may escalate the charge to felony assault (aka aggravated assault) under 18 Pa. Code §2702. As a first or second-degree felony, based on the circumstances, a conviction means serious jail time and a violent mark on your criminal record.
Regardless of what happened, if you or a loved one have been charged with assault in Pittsburgh, contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys right away. Our experienced assault lawyers will answer your questions protect your rights, and help find a favorable outcome.
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Under the statute, you could be charged with aggravated assault if your conduct involves use of a deadly weapon. Acts that are included under this offense are the attempt to cause bodily harm, as well as intentionally or knowingly completing the crime. A deadly weapon includes a firearm, regardless of whether it’s loaded. The statute also covers any device capable of causing death or serious bodily injury, or a mechanism which is designed to be a deadly weapon.
Is assault a felony in Pittsburgh?
Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law. The exception is if the assault occurs through a physical encounter or fight that both parties engage in consensually. In such a case, the offense is considered a third-degree misdemeanor.
Aggravated assault is always charged as a felony in Pennsylvania. The degree depends upon the circumstances, including the type of conduct and the nature of the victim. If the person you assaulted is a police officer, teacher, employee in public transportation, or any other within the statute, the crime is a first-degree felony. Committing the specified acts against any other person could mean an arrest on second-degree felony charges.
Note that an offense that would typically be charged as simple assault could be elevated to the aggravated form of the crime in domestic violence situations.
Penalties for Assault Charges in Pittsburgh
There are varying criminal sanctions for an assault conviction in Pittsburgh, including:
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor Simple Assault: If you’re convicted of this offense through an intentional, consensual interaction with the alleged victim, you could be sentenced to one year in custody and a fine up to $2,500.
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor Simple Assault: For this type of assault, your sentence for a conviction could be a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $5,000.
- First-Degree Felony Aggravated Assault: The more serious of the two degrees of felonies, this crime could carry up to 20 years’ incarceration and a maximum fine of $25,000.
- Second-Degree Felony Aggravated Assault: You face a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000 for this offense.
Beyond assault jail time, a conviction on a misdemeanor or felony charge means that you’ll have a criminal record. You may experience difficulties with employment, loans, educational opportunities, and immigration. If the situation involved domestic violence, your rights to child custody and visitation could be restricted.
However, you should always bear in mind that an arrest doesn’t mean a conviction. The prosecuting attorney must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest level of proof under the US legal system. There may be multiple opportunities for an assault defense attorney to attack the evidence, witness testimony, or negotiate for a reduced outcome.
Additional Consequences For An Assault Charge in Allegheny County
If you are found or plead guilty to assault, you will experience a number of hardships beyond time behind bars and fines. Even if you avoid jail, convictions create a permanent criminal record, which can lead to:
- Difficulty gaining admission to college or graduate school
- Ineligibility or difficulty obtaining certain professional licenses
- Difficulty obtaining a job
- Ineligibility for housing assistance
- Difficulty getting approved for rental housing
- Immigration issues
- Child custody and visitation issues
- Protective orders against you
- Loss of your voting rights for a period of time
- Loss of your gun ownership rights for a period of time
To avoid these, you need to work with an experienced assault attorney to build a strong defense.
Defending Against Assault Charges in Pittsburgh
Convictions are not set in stone if you’re accused of assault. Police are known to make mistakes in very tense domestic situations and assault allegations can stem from a simple misunderstanding. Put simply, any number of defense strategies could help get your charges reduced or dismissed.
- Consent– You may be able to prove you had permission to act as you did.
- Self-defense– There may be evidence that your actions were a reasonable response to another person’s words or actions, and that you were attempting to protect yourself.
- Defense of others– You may be able to show a judge or jury that you reasonably acted to protect other people from harm.
- Lack of necessary intent– We may be able to prove that you did not have the intent necessary under the law to have committed the crime. This may not be a full defense to an assault offense, but it may be an important element of your overall defense strategy.
- Prosecution’s lack of sufficient evidence– If we can demonstrate that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove you committed the crime, then we may be able to gain an acquittal.
1. Will an Assault Charge Impact My Gun Rights?
If your assault or domestic violence conviction is a felony, then you will no longer be allowed to own guns in Pennsylvania. However, even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be prohibited from owning weapons because your conviction is of a violent crime. It’s important to seek help from an assault defense lawyer to try and get your charges reduced or eliminated completely so that your gun rights are not taken away.
2. How Can Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys Help Me?
We focus on cases like assaults and domestic violence, and we know how the prosecution will proceed with their case. We are familiar with the types of evidence they will try to use against you. We will gather evidence and use experts to prove your innocence. If we are not able to get your charges dismissed entirely, we can work to have them reduced to a charge that will impact your life as little as possible.
When the police show up at the scene of an assault, they are ready to make an arrest. They will want to ask you questions, and your answers will be used against you later. You should not speak with them immediately or at the police station. Instead, ask for an attorney right away. We will handle all of the legal issues and work to protect your rights and your reputation.
Our Pittsburgh Assault Defense Attorneys Are Here to Defend You
When you face charges for assault or domestic violence in Pittsburg, you need a knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced lawyer on your side. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys will review the facts, work to protect your record, and use every possible resource to get the case reduced or dismissed. If necessary we’ll take the matter to trial and fight to prove your innocence.
Assault and domestic violence charges can label you as a violent individual, but we are here so that doesn’t happen.
To learn more, contact us at (412) 281-2146 to schedule an free consultation.