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WHEN IS AN AGGRAVATED ASSAULT NOT A “CRIME OF VIOLENCE?”

| Oct 9, 2020 | Criminal Law

Saeed Rasheed Johnson appealed from the aggregate judgment of sentence of ten to twenty years of imprisonment imposed after he was convicted of robbery and possessing an instrument of crime (“PIC”).

Johnson contended that his prior conviction for aggravated assault in New Jersey did not qualify as “crime of violence” because the New Jersey aggravated assault elements “contemplate a less serious crime than the Pennsylvania aggravated assault statute.” Therefore, Johnson argued that the trial court erred when it imposed the “second strike” mandatory minimum of ten to twenty years.

Upon reviewing the applicable statutes, the PA Superior Court concluded that the New Jersey aggravated assault statute plainly proscribes a lesser degree of bodily injury than the qualifying Pennsylvania crimes. Specifically, a “significant bodily injury” (NJ) targets temporary losses of bodily function, whereas a “serious bodily injury” (PA) pertains to permanent or protracted losses of bodily function.

As a result, the Superior Court held that since Johnson’s 2010 New Jersey aggravated assault conviction was not a “crime of violence” as defined in Pennsylvania, he did not qualify for an enhanced sentencing mandatory of ten to twenty years.

However, having upheld the convictions, the Superior Court vacated Johnson’s sentence and remanded the case for resentencing.

COMMONWEALTH V. SAEED RASHEED JOHNSON, No. 1313 EDA 2019 (Pa. Super. 10/09/2020).

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/J-S19011-20o%20-%20104571333115766746.pdf?cb=1