Many people think that both “assault” and “battery” are the same things. However, these are usually two separate crimes that a person can be charged with. Here, we want to discuss what has to happen in order for a person to be charged with battery, as well as the penalties for battery in Pennsylvania. Not only will we discuss regular battery charges, but we will also look at aggravated battery, as this is a more serious charge.
What is Battery in Pennsylvania?
Most states separate out “assault” and “battery” laws into two separate statutes. However, Pennsylvania does not have a specific charge for battery. The criminal code in the Commonwealth incorporates both simple and aggravated battery into assault laws. As we review battery charges in Pennsylvania, our explanation will address simple and aggravated assault laws written into the Commonwealth code.
Simple Assault (and Battery)
This is considered a misdemeanor charge in Pennsylvania. Simple assault can include the threat of assault or creating fear of assault in another person, as well as actual physical actions. There can be an injury suffered as a result of a simple assault, but that is not a requirement. This can include holding somebody down, groping them, grabbing their arm, punching them, etc. There is no distinction made as to whether a person used a weapon or not written into the law. A person who threatens someone else with a weapon without inflicting physical harm can be charged with simple assault.
In general, simple assault and battery will be charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor offense and carry up to two years in prison upon conviction. If a fight involves two parties mutually engaged in aggressive behavior, this will typically be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor which carries up to one year in prison. If an assault is committed against an individual under the age of 12, this will be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and can result in up to five years in prison.
Aggravated Assault (and Battery)
Aggravated assault and battery in Pennsylvania is considered a violent crime. The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault is that a serious bodily injury is the result. We have to dig further and look at whether or not there was a bodily injury or a serious bodily injury. Under Pennsylvania law, bodily injury is defined as the “impairment of physical condition of substantial pain.” However, when we define a serious bodily injury, we will see that this is a “bodily injury which creates substantial risk of death or which causes permanent disfigurement or impairment of bodily function.”
In general, aggravated assault and battery is considered a violent crime and carries harsher penalties than simple assault and battery. In most cases, aggravated assault and battery is charged as a Class 2 felony in Pennsylvania and carries up to 10 years in prison. Any individual found to have acted with extreme indifference to human life could be charged with a Class 1 felony and face as many as 20 years in prison. If an individual commits this crime while using a deadly weapon and an injury occurs, this will be a Class 2 felony that carries up to 10 years in prison.