Aggravated Assault vs Simple Assault in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of assault a person may be charged with. Simple assault and aggravated assault. If you are a charged with one or both of these crimes, it is important that you (and, of course, your attorney) know the difference


To convict a person of Simple Assault, the Commonwealth of PA is going to attempt to prove the following in court:

  • The defendant intentionally, knowingly or recklessly attempted to cause bodily injury to another person
  • The defendant negligently caused bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
  • The defendant attempted to use physical menace to intimidate another person with imminent serious bodily injury
  • The defendant penetrated a law enforcement officer or other official of the jail or correctional system with a hypodermic needle while getting arrested or being searched.

In cases of Aggravated Assault, the law is different and so often are the penalties. In cases of Aggravated Assault, the Commonwealth of PA is going to attempt to prove the following in court:

  • Causes serious bodily injury to another and shows an extreme indifference to human life
  • Causes, attempts to cause or places the victim in fear of serious bodily injury and the victim is a police officer, firefighter, parole officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff, enforcement agent or correctional officer performing their duties.
  • Attempts to cause or intentionally and knowingly causes serious bodily harm to a member of the teaching community at a school while the victim is working at the school
  • Uses tear or noxious gas or a stun gun to incapacitate any of the city or state officials listed above while they are performing their duties. These occupations fit into what is referred to as a protected class. In short, penalties are higher in cases where an officer, teacher, sheriff, firefighter, etc. is assaulted while on the job.

Possible defenses in cases of assault range from lack of knowledge and age to self-defense, insanity and provocation. It is important to talk to an attorney when charged with assault because so often these cases are not exactly cut and dried. What’s more is that while sentences for simple assault are in the 12 month range, those for aggravated assault can often range from five to ten to twenty years in prison.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Simple or Aggravated Assault, it is best to hire a lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, call 610-891-8303 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.