Much more serious than simple assault or other domestic violence offenses, aggravated assault charges in Pennsylvania can be life-altering. As a felony, you’re facing up to 20 years in prison and a violent conviction, forever attached to your record.
Aggravated assault charges in Pittsburgh refer to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing someone serious bodily harm. Typically, aggravated assault offenses involve using deadly weapons or showing extreme indifference to human life. You can also be charged with aggravated assault depending on who you hurt. If you are arrested or think you may be charged with aggravated assault, reach out to an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.
The Pittsburgh aggravated assault attorneys with Worgul, Sarna & Ness are here to answer your questions and fight for the best possible outcome. Early intervention and actions from a capable attorney could make all the difference. Call (412) 281-2146 for a free, confidential consultation.
Aggravated Assault in Pittsburgh
Under 18 Pa. Code § 2702, someone is guilty of aggravated assault if they cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly in situations that show extreme indifference to the value of human life.
Additionally, you may be charged with aggravated assault if you:
- Seriously injure or attempt to inure any officers, agents, employees, or other specific persons, while in the performance of the official duty. This includes police officers, correction officers, firefighters, probation officers, cour officials, emergency medical staff, or school employees.
- Attempt to cause or cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; tear or noxious gas, or an electric or electronic incapacitation device against
- Attempt to cause or cause bodily injury to a child less than six years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older
- Cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury to a child less than 13, by a person 18 years of age or older.
What is Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious bodily injury is defined under the law as a physical injury that causes significant, permanent disfigurement, a lasting loss or impairment to a bodily function or poses a risk of death. For instance, if someone is left disabled or even with permanent scaring following a violent encounter, you may be charged with aggravated assault.
Aggravated Assault & Deadly Weapons
In Pennsylvania it is considered aggravated assault if you use a deadly weapon, such as a gun, to try to intentionally or knowingly injure another person. This level of aggravated assault is a felony of the second degree, and you can be sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison.
Aggravated Assault & School Employees
Attempting to injure someone who works for a school while they are acting in the scope of their duties or because of their employment or relationship to the school, is aggravated assault. This includes individuals such as a principal, school board member, or teacher.
It is also considered aggravated assault to try and menace school personnel while they are acting in the scope of their duties or to use noxious gases or incapacitation devices to harm them.
If you are arrested for allegedly attempting to hurt a school employee or menace them, you face a felony of the second degree, punished with up to 10 years in prison.
Aggravated Assault & Court or Prison Personnel
You can be charged with an aggravated assault that is graded at a more serious level if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause serious harm to officers, agents, or employees of either the courts or the prison system while they are performing their duties. This includes judges, magistrates, district attorneys, public defenders, police officers, firefighters, probation or parole officers, sheriffs, parking enforcement officers, and emergency medical service personnel.
Aggravated assault on a court or prison employee is a felony of the first degree, punished with up to 20 years in prison.
Aggravated Assault Penalties & Consequences
Most aggravated assault charges in Pittsburg and throughout PA are considered second-degree penalties. These are punishable by. up to 10 years in prison and a max fine of $25,000. However, the penalties and felony classification rise based on the circumstances and who suffered the serious bodily injury. For example, if you are accused of aggravated assault on a police officer, it can be charged as a first-degree felony, which potentially carries 20 years.
An aggravated assault charge can be very stressful for your family. If you are the primary income provider and you have to spend time in jail, it can hurt them financially as well as emotionally.
When your employer finds out you were arrested for a violent crime, it can also have a damaging impact on your employment. You may even lose your job. Even if you avoid jail time, a conviction ends you having a criminal record that will negatively affect your ability to get a good job, join the military, obtain certain professional licenses, or be admitted to graduate school.
How to Defend Against Aggravated Assault Charges?
These cases are aggressively pursued by police and prosecutors. They will want to secure convictions quickly, so your best option is to avoid making a statement and contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Aggravated assault charges are very fact-specific and a lot depends on the circumstances involved. If your attorney can sufficiently argue that you did not, in fact, use a weapon or intentionally cause the person’s injury, you may see the charges reduced or even dismissed. In some cases, you may also present evidence that you were acting in self-defense.
Self Defense in Aggravated Assault Cases
Pennsylvania gives you the right to defend yourself as long as you use a weapon that carries the same level of force as the one your attacker is using. For example, if someone tries to kick you, you should not respond by shooting them with a semi-automatic.
If you were charged with aggravated assault for allegedly trying to cause serious harm to a court or prison system employee, this defense will not be available to you.
Regardless of the details, your best resource for evaluating your options after being charged with aggravated assault will be an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney.
Our Aggravated Assault Attorneys Can Help
If you have been charged with aggravated assault, your first step should be to immediately hire a Pittsburgh aggravated assault lawyer. You may be jailed for several days before your bond is set. While you are in jail, do not talk about what occurred with anyone other than your attorney. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you – they will find a way to take what you say out of context and use it against you.
Do not consider any offers the police or prosecutors may make without talking to your attorney first. Your lawyer will have your best interests in mind and can help you make the decisions that are right for you under your specific circumstances.
Do not have any contact at all with the alleged victim. If you phone or text them or otherwise communicate with them, what you say can be taken out of context and used against you at a trial.
When you meet with your lawyer tell them everything that happened including the names of any possible witnesses. It is important to give your attorney the information they need to prove that your actions were unintentional and/or legal. Let your attorney know if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the alleged assault took place. It will be more difficult for the District Attorney to prove you had criminal intent if you were impaired at the time.
If any of your friends took pictures or videos of the events that took place, be certain to give them to your lawyer.