Sucker Punch Causing Serious Bodily Injury Enough for Aggravated Assault?

by | Dec 17, 2007

A single sucker punch causing the victim to sustain serious bodily injury is enough for a case to go to trial on an aggravated assault charge.

In Commonwealth v. Patrick, 933 A.2d 1043 (Pa. Super. 2007), an en banc Pennsylvania Superior Court issued an opinion, written by Judge Gantman, holding that where a defendant delivers a single sucker punch to the side of the victim’s face with enough force to knock the victim off his feet, and where he hit the sidewalk head first and spent two days in a coma due to severe brain trauma, there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial because there exists evidence of the defendant’s recklessness under circumstances manifesting the extreme indifference to the value of human life.

Simply put, a sucker punch with absolutely no warning that puts the victim in a coma will be enough evidence to prosecute a defendant for aggravated assault. Speak with a Philadelphia assault lawyer if you are facing chrages or have questions.

Dissenting Opinion by Todd, J:

Here is the dissenting opinion in this case:

“[F]or the degree of recklessness contained in the aggravated assault statute to occur, the offensive act must be performed under circumstances which almost assure that injury or death will ensue. The recklessness must, therefore, be such that life threatening injury is essentially certain to occur. This state of mind is, accordingly, equivalent to that which seeks to cause injury. Examples of such behavior make the distinction clear. In Commonwealth v. Daniels, 467 Pa. 35, 354 A.2d 538 (1976), appellant had fired a gun into a crowd; in Commonwealth v. Laing, 310 Pa.Super. 105, 456 A.2d 204 (1983), appellant drove his car into a crowd, after having aimed it at an individual; in [Commonwealth v.] Scofield, [360 Pa.Super. 552, 521 A.2d 40 (1987),] the appellant drove at a pedestrian. See also, Commonwealth v. Hlatky, 426 Pa.Super. 66, 626 A.2d 575 (1993); Commonwealth v. Rohach, 344 Pa.Super. 229, 496 A.2d 768 (1985). In each of these instances, the defendant could reasonably anticipate that serious bodily injury or death would be the likely and logical consequence of his actions. In each case, the consequence was ignored.”

You can also learn about how the Commonwealth requires prove of causation in aggravated assault with a vehicle while intoxicated here.

Laws Relevant to This Case

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2702(a)(1)

Aggravated assault.

(a) Offense defined.–A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:

(1) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

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