“Assault and battery” is a serious crime in Pennsylvania, but often we use the term without understanding what it means. Pennsylvania law contains several levels of “assault and battery” charges depending on the accused's intent, the harm or injury caused, and the circumstances surrounding the event. However, even the lowest level of assault can carry a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Simple Assault

A simple assault involves knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally inflicting bodily injury on another person or putting someone in fear of imminent bodily harm. Negligently causing bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon can also be simple assault in Pennsylvania. Breaking the simple assault law down:

  • “Bodily harm” involves any physical impairment, including pain. For example, inflicting bruises on someone could be “bodily harm.”
  • “Knowingly” means being aware of what you're doing and the consequences of those acts.
  • “Recklessly” means acting with deliberate disregard for the consequences of an action.
  • A “deadly weapon” is pretty much any weapon that an assailant could use to cause serious injury or death, like a knife or a gun.
  • Acting “negligently” means that you should be aware of the risks of an action, but you go ahead and do it anyway.

See 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701 (2014). Simple assault can range from a third-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor, depending on the assault's circumstances and the assailant's age. Penalties can range from one to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Aggravated Assault

An aggravated assault is one that “intentionally,” “knowingly,” or “recklessly” inflicts “serious bodily injury” under circumstances that demonstrate “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Assaults with a deadly weapon or those against certain public employees or officials can also be aggravated assaults.

Breaking the elements of an aggravated assault down:

  • “Knowingly” means being aware of your actions and the consequences.
  • “Recklessly” means acting with deliberate disregard for the consequences of your actions.
  • “Serious bodily injury” involves a serious or permanent impairment, disfigurement, or creating a substantial risk of death.

See 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (2020).

Aggravated assault without a serious bodily injury is a second-degree felony, resulting in up to ten years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. Aggravated assault with a serious bodily injury is a first-degree felony that can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you're facing charges in Pennsylvania for assault and battery, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the criminal justice system. Attorney John D’Intino, Jr. has been working hard for Pennsylvania defendants for years. He can help you too. Contact the D’Intino Law Firm at 267-491-9111 to set up your consultation.