Assault is one of the most common violent criminal charges that people face in Pennsylvania. Charges range from simple assault to aggravated assault, with many factors increasing the severity of the charges and penalties.
Simple assault is often a second-degree misdemeanor, although certain factors could lead to more serious charges. In many cases, defendants could face up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines if they plead guilty or get convicted in court.
Many people assume that only those who caused serious bodily injury to another person will wind up charged with assault under Pennsylvania law. However, what many people fail to realize is that actual injury or even physical contact is not necessary for Pennsylvania state prosecutors to charge someone with simple assault.
Simple assault can involve menacing behavior, not just physical violence
The state definition of assault involves multiple activities. Many times, assault does involve threatening or offensive non-consensual physical contact. It could also involve accidentally hurting someone with a deadly weapon.
Still, you don’t actually have to touch someone for the state to charge you with assault. Simple assault could also involve physically menacing someone in a way that makes them fear for their safety. Pulling your fist back like you intend to punch someone, looming over a much smaller person or otherwise using your body or facial expression to communicate immediate threats to another could lead to assault charges.
Learning more about how the state defines assault can give you more options for fighting back against your pending criminal charges.