Assault is one of the most common charges in Pennsylvania. It often arises out of a disagreement or heated exchange. Assault charges range in severity, and sometimes an assault conviction can result in a lengthy prison term. Even facing a seemingly minor assault charge can be a harrowing experience, and it can have negative repercussions throughout all aspects of your life. If you are faced with assault charges, it is in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable attorney regarding your charges and potential defenses. At Lenahan & Dempsey, P.C., our Scranton assault defense lawyers are adept at navigating the Pennsylvania criminal justice system, and we will work diligently to help you seek a favorable outcome.Pennsylvania Assault Charges
In Pennsylvania, assault is not a singular offense. To the contrary, there are numerous assault crimes with which the Commonwealth may charge a person, including simple assault and aggravated assault. Notably, a person does not need to actually cause bodily harm to be charged with assault. Instead, in many cases, the mere threat of bodily harm is a sufficient basis to charge a person with an assault crime.
Simple assault is typically charged as a misdemeanor. A person may be found guilty of simple assault if the person knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally caused bodily harm to another individual, or attempted to cause such harm. A person may also be convicted of simple assault for using physical threats to attempt to put another person in fear of imminent, serious bodily harm, or negligently causing bodily harm to someone else through the use of a deadly weapon.
Generally, the Commonwealth reserves aggravated assault charges for behavior that is more egregious than acts that constitute simple assault. Aggravated assault is a felony in Pennsylvania, so you should consult an assault defense attorney at our Scranton firm immediately if you are facing this type of charge. Several acts constitute aggravated assault, including recklessly, knowingly, or negligently causing, or attempting to cause, serious bodily harm to another person in a manner that demonstrated an extreme indifference to the value of a person’s life. Knowingly or intentionally harming or attempting to harm another person physically with a deadly weapon is also considered aggravated assault. Acts that cause bodily harm to public transportation employees or certain government employees may be considered aggravated assault as well.Defenses to Assault Charges
In many assault cases, there are defenses that the defendant may be able to set forth to avoid a conviction, but the precise defenses available depend on the facts of the case. A defense commonly asserted in assault cases, though, is self-defense. Essentially, a person charged with assault who asserts that he or she acted in self-defense admits that he or she committed the acts out of which the charges arose, but argues that such acts were justified under the circumstances. Since self-defense can be complex, you should retain a skillful Scranton assault defense attorney to make this argument on your behalf.
In Pennsylvania, it is lawful to use force toward another person if you reasonably believe that there is an immediate need to use such force to protect you from being harmed by the person’s unlawful use of force. The amount of force used must be reasonable, however, and the use of deadly force is only permitted in limited circumstances. If we set forth sufficient evidence that you were acting in self-defense, the prosecution must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not acting in self-defense. In many cases, the prosecution will attempt to refute that a person was acting in self-defense by arguing that the person provoked the use of force. Under Pennsylvania law, if you provoke the use of force against you, you cannot claim self-defense.Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
The dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Lenahan & Dempsey, P.C., have the knowledge and experience needed to set forth a zealous defense in an assault case. We frequently represent people who need an assault defense lawyer in the Scranton area, as well as people charged with a wide variety of other crimes, such as domestic violence, murder, manslaughter, arson, kidnapping, gun crimes, and burglary. We have offices in Scranton, Tunkhannock, New Berwick, and the Poconos Mountains region, and we assist people in criminal matters throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Lycoming, Monroe, and Montour Counties. We can be reached at 888.536.2426 or through our form online to discuss the specifics of your case at no obligation.