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What Is Simple Assault?

Posted on June 25, 2024

What Is Simple Assault?

Simple assault in Pennsylvania is the attempt to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person. Bodily injury refers to impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.

Definition of Simple Assault by Law

Under the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18, Section 2701, simple assault is defined as:

“…a person is guilty of assault if he:

(1)  attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;

(2)  negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;

(3)  attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or

(4)  conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.”

Classification and Penalties

Simple assault is typically classified as a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. This classification carries potential penalties, including up to two years in prison and fines up to $5,000. However, the classification can change based on certain conditions:

  • Mutual Consent: If the assault occurs during a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, it is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for a third-degree misdemeanor include up to one year in prison and fines up to $2,500.
  • Assault on a Child: If the victim is under 12 years of age and the perpetrator is 18 years or older, the offense is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. This carries a more severe penalty of up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault

The distinction between simple assault and aggravated assault in Pennsylvania lies primarily in the severity of the injury caused and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Aggravated assault, defined under Title 18, Section 2702, involves causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury under circumstances showing extreme indifference to human life or causing injury with a deadly weapon. Aggravated assault is classified as a felony, reflecting its more serious nature, and carries much harsher penalties, including longer prison sentences and higher fines. The key differences hinge on the level of harm inflicted, the use of weapons, and the intent or recklessness displayed by the perpetrator.

Legal Options for Victims of Simple Assault

Even if the perpetrator is not criminally charged or is acquitted in a criminal trial, you still have the right to sue. Suing someone who assaulted you in Philadelphia involves pursuing a civil lawsuit for damages resulting from the assault. Unlike criminal proceedings, where the state prosecutes the offender, a civil lawsuit is initiated by the victim to seek compensation for physical injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.

To succeed in a personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant (perpetrator) intentionally or recklessly caused you harm, resulting in tangible damages. Gathering evidence such as medical records, witness testimonies, and any available video footage can strengthen your claim. Consulting with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney is also crucial. They can help navigate the legal process, assess the value of your claim, and represent your interests in court.