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Pennsylvania Assault Defenses

Whether you are involved in a bar fight or a domestic feud gets out of hand, you may one day find yourself slapped with assault charges. If this happens to you, youll want to educate yourself about Pennsylvania assault law to better understand assault defenses available to you.

In addition, you may want to seek out the assistance of a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer. A lawyer can review your case to come up with a defense strategy for you.

Levels of Pennsylvania Assault Charges

There is not one type of assault in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania criminal law, there are actually several type of assault, some considered more severe than others.

The most basic form of assault is simple assault. Simple assault occurs when either someone causes someone else bodily harm or when someone instills the fear that they are about to cause bodily harm. This type of assault is usually classified as a class 2 misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.

However, if the simple assault is the result of a consensual fight, then it is a lesser charge and is punishable by up to only one year in prison. If the assault involves a child under the age of 12, it is a class 1 misdemeanor in Pennsylvania and can result in a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Beyond simple assault, there is also felony assault under Pennsylvania assault law. This type of assault, known as aggravated assault, is considered a class 2 felony in Pennsylvania and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This applies for incidents of assault that involve serious injury or the use of a deadly weapon.

If the assault causes severe injuries-the kind that show an extreme indifference toward human life-then a person may be charged with a class 1 felony in Pennsylvania, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Pennsylvania Assault Defenses: The Alibi

If you are wrongly accused of committing assault, one of your best defenses may be the alibi defense. An alibi is when you try to prove that you could not have committed the crime because you werent there. Usually, you will produce an alibi witness to attest to you actual whereabouts. Video footage can back up the witness's testimony.

The alibi defense loses its effect if the jury is not convinced by the alibi witness. Therefore, when using the alibi defense, you must be comfortable with placing a lot of importance on this witness.

Pennsylvania Assault Defenses: Self-Defense

If you use physical force to stop an attack on yourself or someone else, then any injuries you cause to the attacker may be justified under what is known as the self-defense defense.

The self-defense defense claims you used a reasonable amount of force to thwart or stop an attack. To use this defense, you will have to show that the other person attempted to attack first and the amount of force you used was reasonable.

Pennsylvania Assault Defenses: Not Enough Evidence

Under the law, you are innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, the prosecution (the party responsible for proving your guilt) must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that you and your attorney may attempt to question witnesses and challenge evidence to create a doubt in the jury members minds.

If you can cast enough doubt, the jury will have a reasonable doubt that you did not commit the assault and will not be able to convict you.

If you have further questions specific to assault defenses or Pennsylvania assault law, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney in your area who has experience defending those charged in assault cases.