Many people mistakenly believe that grading and severity of assault charges are dependent upon whether or not the victim was hurt. A person can be charged with assault based upon the person's intent to cause either a "bodily injury" or "serious bodily injury." In some cases, a person charged with assault threatens the victim and thereby verbally provides direct evidence of intent. If the threat to harm another is not followed by any action to actually inflict the harm, then the person may not be charged with an assault but would instead by charged with terroristic threats.
In most assault cases, intent is proven by circumstantial evidence. For example, if a person swings a bat at another person's head, a district attorney would pursue a prosecution on an Aggravated Assault charge and would argue to the jury that the bat swinger had the intent to cause serious bodily injury by swinging a weapon at a vital part of the body. An intent to cause serious bodily injury does not require the use of a weapon. In many counties across Pennsylvania, district attorneys prosecute Aggravated Assault cases in which the assault suspect used his fists to punch a person repeatedly in the head, often after the assault victim was rendered defenseless. Case law exists in Pennsylvania that says that one punch can actual constitute an attempt to cause serious bodily injury.
If you have any questions about criminal charges in Pennsylvania please feel free to call our office at 814-954-1094 for a free consultation with Attorney Jason Dunkle.