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Pennsylvania assault: What exactly is that?

by | Jun 27, 2017 | Criminal Defense

I never even touched him, so I know I didn’t commit assault.

Are you sure about that?

“Assault” is one of those criminal law terms — admittedly, there are others, as well — that can be a bit elusive and even downright slippery when it comes to the question of whether it occurred in a given case.

So, what is it?

Even among multiple legal sources, assault is not consistently defined in similarly straightforward terms. Even so, there are always core components that attach to this criminal charge. They centrally include these factors:

· An attempt or threat to injure another person

· A seeming ability to commit such an act

· Behavioral action that gives another individual some basis for belief that he or she might be harmed

One can readily see that there is some wiggle room in that, based on what might be reasonably assumed, what truly constitutes a threat, the requisite capacity to follow through on a threat and so forth.

Unsurprisingly, assault charges often “go hand-in-hand with alcohol consumption.”

That fact alone can sometimes provide proven legal counsel with ammunition to defend against an assault charge on grounds of diminished capacity. Certainly, too, an alleged assault can sometimes be termed just as strongly as an act of self-defense against another person’s aggression. Moreover, maybe one or more parties are simply making up a story.

As to the above “I never touched him” argument, it needs to be noted that a lack of touching does not automatically render an assault allegation defective. Many people are convicted of an assault charge for simply making a threat or inducing reasonable fear of injury in another person.

Pennsylvania law posits different categories of assault and materially differing penalties based upon the charge, with a charge being possible for either a “simple” or “aggravated” offense.

Unquestionably, an assault charge for any college student or other young person is a flatly serious matter, with attached downsides that could potentially be life-changing in a notably adverse way.

Reaching out promptly for knowledgeable and aggressive legal defense assistance can be a reasonable first step for any individual facing a criminal charge and seeking to maximally safeguard his or her legal rights and interests.