If you have been accused of committing a violent crime in Greensburg, or a nearby city, now is the time to call a violent crimes attorney from Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys. While some violent offenses may be charged as misdemeanors, this is not to say you should take it less seriously. First-degree misdemeanors can still result in up to five years in prison. Additionally, if the violent crime in question is charged as a felony, you may be facing years or decades in prison.
The best way to avoid a violent crime conviction and imprisonment is to work with an experienced violent crimes lawyer near you. You need someone who understands the stakes, and who will carefully analyze the case to determine all possible technical and substantive defenses. You need a criminal defense lawyer in Greensburg, who treats your case as their top priority. We are here to do that.
What Is a Violent Crime?
Violent crimes in Pennsylvania come in many forms, and they all have one thing in common: They involve a person’s health and safety being put in danger. Many violent crimes involve another person being physically injured or killed. Other violent crimes involve a victim avoiding injury yet suffering from a serious and immediate threat due to someone’s intentional conduct.
If you are ever accused of violence or threatening violence against another person, you should take steps to protect yourself. Do not try to evade the police or avoid arrest. However, do not answer a police officer’s questions. Instead, politely, calmly, and firmly state that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you want an attorney. Then, contact our violent crimes lawyers or call a friend or family member who can reach out to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Common Violent Crimes in Greensburg
Some violent crimes in Greensburg, PA are more common than others, but they all require the services of a skilled attorney. If you’ve been accused of victimizing someone in the area, it is essential you contact an attorney to learn more about Pennsylvania violent crimes law. You need to know how the law defines the crime, what the prosecutor needs to prove, and the potential penalty attached to your specific charge.
Some of the most common violent crime charges we handle include:
Assault (18 Pa. Code §2701)
You can be charged with simple assault if you try to cause or knowingly or recklessly cause another person bodily injury; negligently cause another person bodily injury with a deadly weapon; or use physical menace to put another person in fear of serious bodily injury. A wide range of situations can lead you to be charged with assault, and it is important that you realize you can be charged for your threats, even if the other person is not harmed. Simple assault is usually a third- or second-degree misdemeanor.
You can also face a higher-level offense if you are accused of aggravated assault. Under 18 Pa. Code §2702, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you use a deadly weapon or purposefully injure certain types of professionals while they are working. This is usually a second- or first-degree felony.
Harassment (18 Pa. Code §2709)
It is illegal to harass or stalk someone. You cannot continuously follow or try to communicate with someone with the intent to annoy, harass, or alarm them, especially if that person has asked you to stop one or more times. You can be charged with the crime of harassment if you:
- Strike, shove, kick, or otherwise have physical contact with another person;
- Threaten or try to harm another person;
- Follow another person in one or more public places;
- Engage in conduct that serves no legitimate purpose;
- Convey to another person lewd or threatening words, language, drawings, or caricatures;
- Repeatedly communicate to another person in an anonymous way;
- Repeatedly communicate to another person in an extremely inconvenient time; or
- Repeatedly communicate to another person in some other form.
You can be charged with a summary offense or a misdemeanor for harassing another person. Whether or not you face a third-degree misdemeanor, also known as M3 harassment, depends on your behavior, how long the harassment continued, and your criminal record.
Robbery (18 Pa. Code §3701)
Robbery is the combination of theft and a violent crime. You can be charged with robbery if you are accused of committing a theft, while also:
- Causing someone else a serious bodily injury;
- Threatening someone else with immediate harm or placing them in fear of immediate harm;
- Committing or threatening to commit a second- or first-degree felony, such as homicide;
- Causing or threatening to cause someone immediate harm;
- Taking property from someone by force, no matter how slight; or
- Taking money from a financial institution by demanding it from an employee, like a bank teller.
If you are accused of committing a robbery that did not involve the threat of force or any injuries, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. If someone was harmed, but not seriously, you will face a second-degree felony. If a robbery caused someone serious bodily injury, prosecutors will charge you with a first-degree felony.
Manslaughter (18 Pa. Code §2503 & §2504)
If you are accused of causing another person’s death, you may be charged with manslaughter or murder. Depending on the allegations against you and the specific evidence available, you may be charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. In either situation, you need to call a violent crime lawyer right away.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs if you cause the death of another person without any legal justification, and at the time of the killing, you acted under a sudden and intense passion, which resulted from a serious provocation. This is a first-degree felony.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when you cause another person’s death by performing a lawful or unlawful act in a reckless manner. This is a much less serious offense than voluntary manslaughter. If you are accused of killing another person through your gross negligence, then you will usually be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. Except if the victim was younger than 12 years old, then you will face a second-degree felony.
Murder (18 Pa. Code §2502)
You can be charged with murder if you intentionally kill another person; kill another person while committing a felony; or cause a person’s death in some other way that does not amount to manslaughter.
Intentionally killing another person leads to the highest possible charge in Pennsylvania. You will face first-degree murder and could be sentenced to life in prison or death. However, the state has only put three individuals to death since the late 1970s. If you are accused of killing another person while acting as a principal or accomplice in a felony, this is considered second-degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison. Other forms of causing a loss of life are charged as third-degree murder, and can be penalized with up to 40 years’ incarceration.
Domestic Violence (23 Pa. Code §6102)
Under Pennsylvania law, domestic violence is not a distinct criminal charge. Instead, domestic violence encompasses certain offense committed between two or more people with a particular relationship.
Domestic abuse can occur between:
- Family members (by blood or marriage);
- Household members (but not roommates);
- Current or former sexual or romantic partners; and
- Individuals who have children together.
You can be accused and charged with domestic abuse if you allegedly committed assault, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, harassment, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, indecent assault and aggravated indecent assault, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, incest, or sexual abuse of a minor child. If you are accused of domestic violence, you will face charges for the underlying crime. If convicted, you may face a harsher sentence due to aggravating circumstances.
Also, whether or not you are convicted, the victim of the abuse may obtain an order of protection against you. If you commit another act of domestic violence against that person, you may be charged with a new crime of criminal contempt.
When facing accusations of domestic violence, it is important you work with a violent crimes attorney who can defend you against criminal charges and against civil protection orders.
Statutory Penalties for Greensburg Violent Crimes
If you are charged and convicted of a violent crime in Pennsylvania, you will be punished in relation to the level of the charge against you.
Potential penalties for felony offenses are:
- First-Degree Murder: Up to life in prison or the death penalty.
- Second-Degree Murder: Up to life in prison.
- Third-Degree Murder: A maximum of 40 years in prison.
- First-Degree Felony: A maximum of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
- Second-Degree Felony: Up 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine.
- Third-Degree Felony: Up to seven years in prison and fines reaching $15,000.
The possible sanctions for a misdemeanor crime are:
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: A maximum of five years of imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor: Up to two years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor: Up to one year of imprisonment and up to a $2,000 fine.
- Summary Offense: A maximum of 90 days’ incarceration and fines up to $300.
Possible Violent Crimes Defenses
When you are charged with any violent crime, no matter the level of severity, you need to call a lawyer and discuss your potential violent crime defense. While there are various defense options for violent offenses, they may not all apply to your case. You need an experienced and skilled violent crimes attorney to review your case and determine the most appropriate defense strategy.
Possible defenses include:
- Mistake of identity
- Alibi for the time of the offense
- False allegations
- Lack of necessary intent
- Defense of others
- Defense of property
- The Castle Doctrine (Stand your ground)
- Acting under duress
- Consent of alleged victim
- Unconstitutional search and seizure
- Inadmissible evidence
- Insufficient evidence
Contact a Greensburg Violent Crimes Defense Lawyer Near You
Whether you have already been charged with a violent crime in Greensburg, or you are currently under investigation, Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC are here to help. We have decades of experience protecting the rights of the accused in Greensburg and throughout Pennsylvania. We will fight hard to obtain the best possible outcome in your case, whether that is a dismissal, plea agreement, or acquittal at trial.