Pennsylvania aggravated assault charges address physical or attempted physical altercation between two or more people. They are common charges throughout the state, but that does not make them less serious. Convictions can result in severe fines and decades of your life in prison.
In this article, Brad V. Shuttleworth, an award-winning defense attorney in Philadelphia, answers the following legal questions from a general standpoint:
- What is Aggravated Assault?
- Is Aggravated Assault a Felony?
- How Much Is Bail for Aggravated Assault?
- What Is the Jail Time for Aggravated Assault?
- Can Aggravated Assault Charges Be Dropped in PA?
- Should I Go to Trial or Accept a Plea Deal for Aggravated Assault?
- Can You Plead Down From Aggravated to Simple Assault?
- Is It Possible to Beat Aggravated Assault Charges at Trial?
- Do I need a Pennsylvania Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer?
Let’s start by examining Pennsylvania’s definition of “aggravated assault” to better understand your or your loved one’s charges.
What is Aggravated Assault?
Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes generally define aggravated assault, also called felony assault, as an event where one person causes serious bodily harm against another per 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702. However, the law is far more expansive than this general definition and can include attempts to harm government employees seriously.
Aggravated assault charges in Pennsylvania typically involve the following allegations:
- Caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm to another, or committed extreme acts of “indifference to the value of human life”
- Caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm against public transportation employees while in the performance of their duties
- Caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm to another with a deadly weapon
- Caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm school while acting in the scope of employment
- Attempted put public employees in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by physical menace while acting within the scope of their employment
- Used noxious gases or electronic devices against any officer against public employees while acting in the scope of their employment
- Caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm bodily injury to a minor under age six (6) by someone older than eighteen (18)
- Caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm to a child under age thirteen (13) by someone older than eighteen (18)
As you can see from the above-referenced list, aggravated assault covers a wide range of elements. For more information, check out the statute’s exact legal text here.
Is Aggravated Assault a Felony?
Yes, aggravated assault is a felony in Pennsylvania. Our state classifies these charges as either a 1st- or 2nd-degree felony. The degree of charges depends upon the facts of the case, including parties involved, the victim’s age, weapons used, and the event’s location.
How Much Is Bail for Aggravated Assault?
It is challenging to estimate bail for aggravated assault in Pennsylvania since they are wide-ranging. However, Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, Brad V. Shuttleworth, reports seeing bail amounts ranging from a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars. Bail in Philadelphia is usually set at a monetary amount, and just 10% of that amount needs to be posted for bond. At the end of the case, you get all that money back.
However, some people can’t post 10% of the bail to get out of jail because that’s still a lot of money. This is when you seek a bail bondsman in Philadelphia, such as ABC Bail Bonds. Although you don’t get any money back that you give to a bail bondsman, you may be able to pay them a lower amount than the 10% the court requires to get out of jail.
What Is the Jail Time for Aggravated Assault?
The jail time for aggravated assault depends on the degree charged. In Pennsylvania, you can face up to 20 years imprisonment for a 1st-degree felony assault charge and ten (10) years imprisonment for a 2nd-degree felony assault charge under 18 Pa. CS § 1103.
The exact statute text is available on this web page.
Aggravated Assault Fines
Prison is not the only penalty on the line. You could also face steep fines as well. In Pennsylvania, 1st– and 2nd-degree aggravated assault felonies carry up to $25,000 in civil penalties.
Can Aggravated Assault Charges Be Dropped in PA?
Yes, you can get aggravated assault charges dropped in PA, especially if the prosecutor lacks evidence or a civil rights violation occurred. However, every case is different, meaning that you will need a personalized approach according to the specific facts of your charges.
Should I Go to Trial or Accept a Plea Deal for Aggravated Assault?
Accepting a plea deal for aggravated assault is entirely up to you. However, you should always discuss your legal options with a defense lawyer even before reaching this point in your case. We can offer legal advice to help you weigh the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal or taking your case to trial.
Important Note About Plea Deals
Entering into a plea bargain means that you have to plead guilty to a crime. You waive your right to a judge or jury trial and must adhere to the judge’s sentencing order. Prosecutors are also under no imposition to accept or offer one, so you should discuss your case with private defense counsel first. Pleading guilty creates a criminal conviction that will be on your record forever.
Can You Plead Down From Aggravated to Simple Assault?
If the prosecutor accepts your plea bargain, you could plead guilty from aggravated down to simple assault charges. However, you may not want to take a cavalier approach to this strategy since doing so could result in severe legal mistakes. Every criminal conviction stays on your record forever – entering into a plea deal is a big deal no matter what the charges are. Instead, get the opinion of a defense lawyer and form a plan of action from there.
Is It Possible to Beat Aggravated Assault Charges at Trial?
Yes, it is possible to beat aggravated assault charges at trial, which is one of the reasons our justice system exists. However, you must prove your innocence through admissible evidence, trial preparation, and attending hearings. If you are serious about beating your aggravated assault charges, it is time to think about hiring a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Related Article: How to Defend Pennsylvania Sexual Offense Charges
Do I need a Pennsylvania Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer?
Being charged with aggravated assault is a life-changing experience. However, an aggravated assault attorney in Pennsylvania can help in several ways, including conducting an independent investigation and procuring the legal resources necessary to fight your charges.
You may need a Pennsylvania aggravated assault defense lawyer if any of the following are true:
- The police are detaining your loved one
- You are not sure what to do after an arrest
- You have an upcoming hearing scheduled
- The DA’s Office offered you a plea bargain
- You are scared thinking about what is going to happen
- You had a past relationship with the victim
- You did not commit the crime
The decisions you make today can impact the rest of your life. Never accept responsibility for a crime you did not commit or that the DA cannot prove. Get in touch with a defense lawyer to help you devise a case strategy, whether you accept a plea deal or go to trial.
Pennsylvania Aggravated Assault Charges? Get a Free Case Evaluation With Our Legal Team
You deserve trustworthy legal advice and information from a tough and experienced aggravated assault lawyer in Pennsylvania. Shuttleworth Law is ready to help. Call Brad V. Shuttleworth now for a Free Case Evaluation at (215) 774-1371 or message him directly online. We can travel to you or meet via video chat if you cannot travel to our Philadelphia office.