What is the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Attempted Murder?
You get into a gun fight and, while someone gets into a violent fight, stabbing another person and they are charged with aggravated assault. What’s the difference between the two?
There is often a fine line between aggravated assault and attempted murder, but both can yield very serious consequences. Here, we will go over the key traits of both aggravated assault and attempted murder crime so that you can better understand the charges and penalties in Pennsylvania.
Aggravated Assault Charges in PA
In Pennsylvania aggravated assault cases, an individual must attempt to “cause serious bodily injury to another” or causing injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under “circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” (According to Pennsylvania law 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. section 2702(a)(1)). In order to be classified as aggravated assault versus simple assault, it must be proven that the person acted knowingly and recklessly classified, while also considering the use of a deadly weapon. However, if the act of violence is used against certain public officials or employees, the crime may be charged as aggravated assault even without a weapon involved.
Aggravated assault convictions in Pennsylvania are considered a first-degree or second-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. These crimes will typically result in fines up to $25,000 and 10 years in prison if the assault did not involve great injury. However, you may be subject to up to 20 years in prison if the defendant caused serious bodily injury to the victim.
PA Attempted Murder Cases
The main difference between aggravated assault and attempted murder is that in an attempted murder charge, the prosecution must provide that the defendant specifically intended to kill the victim and took concrete steps toward doing so. You may be charged with attempted murder if you have:
- Injured someone with a deadly weapon (gun, knife, or even car)
- Intentionally and knowingly attempted to cause a death, whether or not successful
- Placed someone in a situation in which they are likely to be killed
Examples of actions that can result in an attempted murder charge include stalking or tracking down a victim looking for an opportunity to commit murder, breaking into and entering a home, trying to convince a victim to come to a specific place or taking actions to make it possible for a victim to be murdered, or paying/convincing someone to commit a murder for you.
An attempted murder conviction in Pennsylvania could lead to a maximum of 20 years in prison if no serious bodily harm occurred, or up to 40 years if serious bodily injury was caused.
Key Differences Between Aggravated Assault & Attempted Murder
Again, the main difference between aggravated assault and attempted murder is the presence of intent. Though neither crime results in a death, the charge will be attempted murder if you the defendant intended this outcome. Attempted murder is a premediated crime, while aggravated assault is not. However, aggravated assault can easily turn into a voluntary manslaughter charge if you acted in the moment with not only the intent to cause bodily injury, but also the intent to cause death.
If you have been charged with aggravated assault or attempted murder, our skilled team of criminal defense attorneys in Philadelphia can help. Contact us today to begin building the best possible defense for your case.