Heated arguments can escalate fast and no one is perfect. Assault and domestic violence 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 us review what happened and explain your next steps. Call (412) 281-2146 today for a free and confidential consultation.
Pennsylvania Assault Charges
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
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.
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 Pittsburg, 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.
Domestic Violence Charges in PA
Domestic violence charges in Pittsburg are a serious matter, impact individuals and families throight the area.
23 Pa. Code §6102 defines domestic violence in PA as abuse between:
- Family members, including current and ex-spouses, parents, children, siblings, and other blood relatives or individuals related by marriage
- Household members, not including roommates
- Current or former sexual or intimate partners
- Individuals who have children together
When you are connected to the alleged victim in one of the way described above, you may be charged with domestic violence if you committed or tried to commit:
- Sexual assault
- Statutory sexual assault
- Aggravated indecent assault
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- Sexual abuse of a minor child
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
- False imprisonment
- Reckless endangerment of another person
False Allegations of Domestic Violence
If you are unsure if your actions amount to domestic violence, or if you have been falsely accused of criminal conduct, contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys as soon as possible. Police officers very often make arrests too quickly and without proper evidence in an effort to deescalate matters. However, this is little comfort to someone suddenly charged with domestic abuse.
An attorney from our firm can review what really happened, find evidence that supports your version of events, and work to protect you from a painful domestic violence conviction.
Penalties for Assault & Domestic Violence
Simple assault is typically a second-degree misdemeanor. However, if a simple assault involves mutual consent, it is a third-degree misdemeanor. This usually applies when two individuals get into a fight. For example, if both parties intentionally enter into a physical altercation, they may face a lesser offense because it was not one individual victimizing another.
Simple assault can also be raised to a first-degree misdemeanor when a person over 21 assaults a child younger than 12.
Domestic violence covers several distinct charges, so the penalties are based on the specific classification and circumstances involved. Generally, domestic violence convictions result in:
- Third-degree misdemeanor– Up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
- Second-degree misdemeanor– Up to 2 years in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
- First-degree misdemeanor– Up to 5 yearsin jail and a fine up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony– Up to 7 years in prison, and a fine up to $15,000.
- Second-degree felony– Up to 10 years in prison, and a fine up to $25,000.
- First-degree felony– Up to 20 years in prison, and a fine up to $25,000.
Convictions may also include probation, community service, restitution, the seizure of any firearms, a protection order, and more depending on the facts.
If you are found or plead guilty to assault or domestic violence, 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 & Domestic Violence Charges
Convictions are not set in stone if you’re accused of assault or domestic violence. 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.
Assault & Domestic Violence FAQs
1. When Will a Police Officer Make an Arrest for Domestic Violence?
According to 18 Pa. Code 2711, a police officer may make a domestic violence arrest when there is probable cause that assault, strangulation, or another domestic violence crime has occurred. The officer will look for signs of recent physical injury or other corroborative evidence.
2. Will the Prosecutor Drop Domestic Violence Charges at the Victim’s Request?
Sometimes the prosecutor will drop domestic violence charges if the victim states they will no longer testify against the person who has been charged. However, the prosecutor may, in some cases, continue to seek a conviction regardless of support from the victim.
3. Will an Assault or Domestic Violence 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.
4. 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 or domestic violence, 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 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.