Being charged with simple assault in Pennsylvania may sound minor, but it can be a life-changing event. Simple assault can cover a wide range of violations that all boil down to one thing: you’re being accused of attacking another person. It can be punching somebody or causing harm with a weapon; it can also be trying to hurt somebody, even if you’ve failed, or threatening to hurt somebody even if you never actually touched them or took any actions. If you’re facing these charges, it’s important that you have the help of an experienced simple assault attorney who understands the different types of simple assault and the penalties that they potentially face.
In the state of Pennsylvania, Simple Assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor of the second degree or of the third degree. A misdemeanor of the second degree carries a $5,000 fine and up to two years in prison, and is a charge applied to knowingly, intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to another person. By contrast, when it is charged as a misdemeanor of the third degree, the harm that’s been caused is usually a result of mutual combat. When this is the case, the penalties are significantly lower, with potential jail time of up to a year and a fine of $2,000.
In addition to the difference in sentencing, there are two other reasons why the question of whether a simple assault conviction is categorized as a misdemeanor of the second degree or of the third degree is important. The first has to do with your criminal record: where a misdemeanor of the second degree cannot be expunged or sealed, a person convicted of a misdemeanor of the third degree can petition the court to have their conviction sealed after 10 years if they aren’t arrested during that time. Their record will not be eliminated but will only be visible to law enforcement and state licensing authorities. This is a powerful difference when it comes to future employment. The other reason has to do with the type of incarceration you face with a misdemeanor of the third-degree vs the second degree: a second-degree conviction carries the possibility of time in the state prison system, where that is not possible with a conviction of simple assault with a misdemeanor of the third degree.
If you need representation in a simple assault case, we have the experience and knowledge you need to ensure that you get the best possible outcome. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.