Biker charged with Aggravated Assault and Possession of Instrument of Crime (PIC) in Center City Philadelphia. What is a PIC and what is the difference between Aggravated and Simple assault?
What happened in Center City Philadelphia? Is a helmet an instrument of crime?
Recently, a motorcycle biker, Cody Heron, was charged in Philadelphia with felony Aggravated Assault and Possession of an Instrument of Crime (PIC) (Misdemeanor). The felony and misdemeanor charge came after Heron allegedly got off his bike and allegedly jumped on top of back windshield of a motorist in Center City Philadelphia. In addition, Heron will also be charged with criminal mischief, terroristic threats, harassment, disorderly conduct, and disorderly conduct. At the time of this incident Heron was allegedly riding his bike with a group riding similar vehicles and ATVs. These alleged gangs or groups have allegedly caused or been involved in similar incidents in Philadelphia. It is unknown if Heron is connected to these groups.
Heron allegedly not only stomped on the victim’s car windshield, he allegedly head bunted her with his helmet. This allegation formed the basis for the aggravated assault and PIC charge. In this case the PIC was the helmet even though a helmet is something thought of as means of protection and not a weapon
This case presents an opportunity to explain the charge of Aggravated Assault versus Simple Assault along with Possession of an Instrument of Crime.
What is a PIC charge in Pennsylvania?
When it comes to “instruments of crime,” most people immediately imagine a gun or some other firearm. In Pennsylvania, however, the crime of “possessing an instrument of crime” isn’t exclusively reserved for guns and firearms.
In this case, the PIC is a motorcycle bike helmet!
Under Section 907(a) a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he or she possesses any instrument of crime with the intent to employ it criminally. Under subsection (b) of this criminal statute, a person is also guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he or she “possesses a firearm or other weapon concealed upon his person with the intent to employ it criminally”.
To convict a person under subparagraphs a or b the District Attorney or Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements against Cody Heron:
- Possession of an instrument (Biker Helmet);
- An instrument that is commonly used for criminal purposes;
- The instrument isn’t being used for a lawful purpose (assault);
- The intent to employ criminally.
This criminal statute applies to more than just firearms and guns. Unlike crimes under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act (a.k.a. VUFA offenses), the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doesn’t even need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the firearm or gun was actually functional or capable of being made functional.
Further, under subparagraph (a), the Commonwealth can convict someone without proving actual possession – constructive possession is enough. The prosecution only has to prove that the accused person had the intent and the ability to control the item in question. There is no issue in this case regarding Heron’s possession of the helmet at the time of the incident. He had it on head!
What else is considered a PIC in Pennsylvania?
While this criminal statute applies to more than just guns and firearms and could apply to a motorcycle helmet. Pennsylvania courts have held that the following items are not instruments of crime:
- A pair of scissors
- A table
- Broom handle
- Tire iron
- Baseball bat
- Unsheathed hunting knife
Aggravated Assault (Felony) vs. Simple Assault (Misdemeanor)
In Pennsylvania, like many jurisdictions, there are different degrees of assault. Assault is either a misdemeanor or a felony offense in the Commonwealth. If assault is a misdemeanor it’s defined as a simple assault in which the alleged perpetrator attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. Simple assault is also committed where the perpetrator acts negligently with a deadly weapon, causing bodily injury. A simple assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree. Heron will likely be charged with a Simple Assault in addition to the aggravated assault charge.
Aggravated assault occurs when the accused attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes serious bodily injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”. An aggravated assault is also committed when a person causes or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon. Here, it is arguable that a motorcycle helmet is a deadly weapon but based on how it was used, the district attorney can make this argument.
If you are charged with aggravated assault in Pennsylvania or New Jersey contact our office to discuss your case! These are serious criminal charges!
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