While all states in the US have laws on the books regarding assault, the details can vary in different jurisdictions. In the state of Pennsylvania, there are two varieties of assault: simple and aggravated.
The difference between simple and aggravated assault is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. According to FindLaw, how severe the sentencing is for assault depends on the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident.
What is simple assault?
In order for the courts to charge a person with simple assault in the state of Pennsylvania, the prosecution must prove a variety of facts beyond a reasonable doubt. These include that the alleged perpetrator knowingly attempted to cause harm to another person. It may involve causing bodily harm in the process, potentially with a deadly weapon.
There is also a special portion of simple assault dedicated to the use of hypodermic needles as an offensive weapon. If the accused penetrated a law enforcement official with a hypodermic needle during an arrest or a search, the courts may charge him or her with simple assault.
What is aggravated assault?
Aggravated assault is a felony that involves the accused showing extreme indifference to human life. Attacking a law enforcement officer or firefighter in the course of their duties is also automatically aggravated assault, as is attacking a member of the educational community while they are at a school.
The penalties for simple assault and aggravated assault can be severe, with aggravated assault carrying up to 20 years in prison. Understanding the difference between simple and aggravated assault can help you understand what is going on in your case.