In Pennsylvania, as in other states, there’s a distinction between simple assault and aggravated assault. The difference can be critical and mean the difference between probation and fines or incarceration. The important thing to understand about both simple and aggravated assault—there’s no requirement of physical contact or touching. You can be charged with assault for causing a reasonable apprehension of impending harm.
Simple Assault in Pennsylvania
Simple assault is customarily charged as a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, with a maximum fine of $5,000 and potential for up to two years of incarceration. Assault typically requires intent, but a person may be charged with assault for negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon. In addition, if the victim is under the age of 13 and the perpetrator is at least 21, the charges may be elevated, resulting in the possibility of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated assault, a felony in Pennsylvania, involves the attempt or actual causing of “serious bodily harm.” A conviction for aggravated assault can carry a penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of as much as $25,000. It’s not necessary that you actually cause “serious bodily harm,” but that you intended to do so. “Serious bodily injury” in Pennsylvania generally refers to an injury that would create a “substantial risk of death, or that would cause serious permanent disfigurement, or that would lead to protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ.
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