The following information is to provide you with an understanding of Pennsylvania's simple assault law and the general issues surrounding a Pennsylvania simple assault offense.
Pennsylvania Simple Assault Law
The law in Pennsylvania concerning simple assault statute is located at 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701 and provides:
(a) Offense defined.--A person is guilty of assault if he:
(1) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
(2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;
(3) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or
(4) conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.
Understanding the PA Simple Assault Law
Definitions under the PA simple assault law:
Criminal attempt - a person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, he does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime (18 Pa.C.S. § 901)
Bodily injury – impairment of a physical condition or substantial pain
Reckless or wanton conduct – a specific intent to injure is not a necessary element of assault if the defendant’s conduct was wanton and reckless such as reckless driving. A Pennsylvania court held that where a hunter handled a gun in a manner which demonstrated reckless disregard for safety of others who were in immediate vicinity, and by doing so injured another, was guilty of assault.
Simple assault may include choking, pinning victim to the ground, knocking victim to the ground, grabbing and shoving, slapping, or pointing a knife or gun at another person.
Fear of imminent serious bodily injury – pointing a gun at another can constitute simple assault. Actions of man in forcing woman to ground and repeatedly pushing her back to the ground when she attempted to get up while the other man went through her coat pockets clearly put woman in “fear of imminent serious bodily injury”, thus arising to the level of simple assault.
Serious bodily injury – bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ (18 Pa.C.S. 2301)
Merger and Lesser Included Offenses
Offenses such as terroristic threats, harassment, endangering the welfare of children, rape, and robbery do not merge with a simple assault charge.
Simple assault does merge into aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person since the elements of simple assault are necessarily included in the other offenses.
Grading of a Simple Assault in Pennsylvania
Simple assault is a PA misdemeanor of the second degree unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a misdemeanor of the third degree; or against a child under 12 years of age by an adult 21 years of age or older, in which case it is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Fines and Penalties for Conviction of Simple Assault in Pennsylvania
A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced to imprisonment for a definite term which shall be fixed by the court and shall not be more than:
5 years for misdemeanor of the first degree
2 years for misdemeanor of the second degree
1 year for misdemeanor of the third degree
Available when the victim suffered personal injury. This is in the discretion of the trial court and the Judge can (and will) consider the extent of the injury (and any potential injuries that might have been caused).
If you have been accused of simple assault in Pennsylvania, the Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray can help you. I represent those charged with simple assault in Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. If you or a loved one has been arrested or received a criminal complaint charging simple assault, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.
Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray
200 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063
(610) 800-5487 (mobile)
(610) 810-2999 (office)
(610) 566-1002 (fax)
This web posting is for general information and does not contain a full legal analysis of the matters presented. It should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon as legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The invitation to contact Kevin M. Wray, Esquire is not a solicitation to provide professional services and should not be construed as an availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which Kevin Wray is not licensed to practice.