One of the most common criminal charges I see in my practice is simple assault. The definition of simple assault can be found in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S.§ 2701. Simple assault is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree (M-2). If Simple assault is the result of a mutual fight, it is downgraded to a misdemeanor of the third degree (M-3). Simple assault carries a maximum penalty of two years incarceration. Typically, a simple assault conviction will result in a sentence of two years probation unless any aggravating circumstances are present or the defendant has a lengthy criminal record.
My practice sees a lot of Simple Assault cases in domestic situations. Typically, an argument ensues between husband and wife, the situation becomes physical, police show up and the husband is then charged with simple assault. Simple assault is also charged in situations where a fight occurs between two individuals. In order to be convicted of a Simple assault the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you "attempt to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another...." Bodily injury is defined as "impairment of physical condition or substantial pain." The definition of bodily injury can be found in Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S. §2301. When you are charged with simple assault nine times out of ten the police will also tack on the summary charge of Harassment. This gives police a fallback if you are found not guilty of the simple assault.
How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge
Some counties like Delaware County and Philadelphia have pre-trial diversionary programs designed to curb domestic violence. For instance, in Delaware County the district judge may continue the case and allow you to attend anger management classes in exchange for dismissing the simple assault charge or pleading guilty to summary disorderly conduct. In Philadelphia Municipal Court you have the opportunity to enter the "Do-it program." The "Do-it program" allows you to have your pending assault charges dismissed against you so long as you complete the classes which focus on problem solving strategies to curb domestic violence. I highly recommend these diversionary programs because if you are convicted of a simple assault charge it will remain on your record for most of your life. If you enter one of these programs you will eligible to have the charges expunged and will have a clean criminal record. In the event you are convicted of a summary offense you may have your record expunged in five years so long as you are arrest free. Unfortunately, some counties (i.e.- Chester) deny defendants the ARD program in domestic simple assault cases and will give out anger management dispositions at district court in rare instances. This means you need an attorney that is prepared to take the case to trial. Your criminal record and reputation is on the line.
Call my office before you plead guilty to a simple assault charge. Simple assault is one of the easier charges to beat in the Pennsylvania criminal system. Many times the victim will not show up to court or will refuse to testify. If this occurs, I am able to have domestic simple assault cases dismissed at the preliminary hearing. Domestic cases are usually "he said, she said" situations which makes it hard for the Commonwealth to sustain their burden of "beyond a reasonable doubt" at trial. Juries usually feel hesitant to convict and ruin your reputation in these types of cases.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a simple assault, be sure to contact Jason R. Antoine, Pennsylvania Simple Assault Lawyer before you speak with police. These charges can be beat and your reputation can be saved!