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Assault versus aggravated assault in Pennsylvania

It is not unheard of for people to get into a scuffle here and there. However, when an argument turns physical, one person can be accused of committing an assault offense. Fortunately, there are some defenses that could be employed when developing a defense strategy against assault charges.

State charges of assault in Pennsylvania are divided into two separate offenses: simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is a misdemeanor in the second degree, with some exceptions. Aggravated assault is a more serious offense than simple assault. Aggravated assault is either a first-degree felony or a second-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. Simple assault and aggravated assault differ based upon whether a person causes or threatens to cause serious bodily injury or whether the accused shows an extreme indifference to human life. The relationship between the accused and the alleged victim and whether a weapon is involved also play a role in whether the offense constitutes simple assault or aggravated assault.

However, whether it is simple assault or aggravated assault, it is important to keep in mind that there are some defenses that, depending on the situation, may be applicable. One defense is that the accused did not intend to harm anyone or know that someone had been or could be harmed. If, in fact, the alleged victim suffered no bodily injury, this may be another defense. If a person acted in self-defense or was provoked, these may be defenses against assault charges. If a person is insane or involuntarily intoxicated, these may also be a defense. Finally, the accused individual's age may play a role in whether they can be charged with assault.

Of course, whether these defenses are successful depends on the facts of each person's individual case. Defenses that may apply to one person's case may not apply to another person's case. Readers should not base their defense strategies on the information in this post, but instead should consult with their criminal defense attorneys to determine how to develop a solid defense in their favor.

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