Our criminal defense law firm represents many individuals charged with possession of illegal drugs and narcotics, as well as various firearms and/or illegal gun offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Many individuals, however, come to us with charges involving either violence or the threat of violence against another person. These charges can range from felony to misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (Indictable Offenses)
The purpose of this blog is to explain the most common crimes pertaining to these types of allegations and the specific elements related to them. It is important to keep in mind that the burden is always on the prosecution to establish each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt—this is the evidentiary standard in any criminal courtroom.
The most common criminal offenses that our law firm deals with are the following:
- Aggravated assault (Pennsylvania – Title 18 § 2702 – felony offense) (New Jersey 2C:12-1(b) -Indictable Offense)
- Simple assault (Pennsylvania – Title 18 § 2701 – misdemeanor) (New Jersey 2C:12-1(a) -disorderly persons offense)
- Terroristic threats (Pennsylvania – Title 18 § 2706 – usually a misdemeanor but can be a felony offense) (New Jersey 2C:12-3(b)—Normally Indictable Offense
- Recklessly endangering another person (REAP) (Pennsylvania – Title 18 § 2705 – misdemeanor)
As I have written in my previous articles related to this crime, an aggravated assault, unlike a simple assault, is graded as a felony in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. An aggravated assault is defined as an attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another or causing such an injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Aggravated assault is usually graded as a felony of the first degree but can be graded as a felony of the 2nd degree in situations where a person attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. The difference between a felony of the 1st & 2nd degree is usually based on the nature of the victim’s bodily injury but can also be based on the victims class (police officer, EMS, firefighter).
Unlike an aggravated assault, simple assault is graded as a misdemeanor offense. It is defined as an attempt to cause or intentionally, knowingly, recklessly causing bodily injury to another. A simple assault in Pennsylvania is also defined as negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or an attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Simple assault is normally graded as a felony of the 2nd degree but it can be graded as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree where it involves a fight which is entered into by mutual consent.
A terroristic threat, like simple assault, is normally graded as a misdemeanor but there are situations where it can be graded as a felony offense. A terroristic threat in Pennsylvania is when a person communicates either directly or indirectly a threat to commit any crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another. A terroristic threat is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree but it becomes a felony offense when the threat causes the evacuation of a building or place of assembly, in which case is a felony of the 3rd degree.
Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP)
Unlike a terroristic threat, this criminal charge doesn’t focus on the action of the person committing the crime alone but also, how the victim receives it. A person commits this crime where he or she recklessly endangers or engages in conduct which places another in danger of death or serious bodily injury.
For more information regarding these criminal offenses I encourage you to keep reading my blog and visit my free download section.