Falsely Accused of Simple Assault
March 18, 2022
If you’ve ever been charged with a crime, you know how stressful it can be trying to figure out your next steps. But what can be particularly difficult is if you believe you were falsely accused. Under these circumstances, it’s important you take these charges seriously —even innocent people can find themselves convicted of a crime they didn’t commit or had a reasonable defense against.
You need to fight these charges and at the Strand Law Offices, LLC, we can help. If you’re facing a simple assault charge, call us today to set up a consultation. Last year in the Commonwealth there were over 35,000 simple assault offenses, and only 62% of them resulted in an official charge. With the right legal representation, you can drastically improve your chances of having your charges dropped. We’re proud to serve clients in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, and surrounding counties throughout Pennsylvania.
Simple Assault Charges in Pennsylvania
The most basic level of assault in Pennsylvania is often referred to as simple assault. With simple assault charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re guilty of attempting to cause bodily harm to someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; that you caused bodily harm to someone with a deadly weapon; that you attempted to intimidate someone or cause them menace with serious bodily injury; or, that you injured a law enforcement officer with a hypodermic needle. It’s important to note with a simple assault charge that you don’t have to have caused harm to be found guilty. In some cases, it’s enough to have had the intention of causing harm.
A simple assault charge may be classified as a second-degree misdemeanor and may bring with it jail time of up to two years. It is also up to the discretion of the judge if they wish to impose fines on top of the jail time. If the assault charge was due to a mutual scuffle in which two people agreed to enter, the charges may be dropped to a third-degree misdemeanor, resulting in up to a year in jail. If the assault was perpetrated by someone over the age of 21 on a minor under the age of 12, it may be a first-degree misdemeanor which can bring up to five years in jail.
When You’ve Been Falsely Accused
No legal system is perfect, and there will always be cases of false accusations. There are a few ways this can happen—but regardless of the reason, you should never ignore it and never try to handle it on your own.
Examples of Circumstances that Led to Accusation
Sometimes, people are charged with crimes they didn’t commit because of mistaken identity. In these cases, you may have been nowhere near the scene of the crime, and just have the misfortune of looking like the actual perpetrator. In other cases, you may have been involved in a fight that wasn’t your fault, but you were still implicated. This could be due to an altercation you’ve had with a spouse, family member, or friend, and when a police officer shows up, both people are charged with assault even if you were just trying to defend yourself. Lastly, someone may knowingly accuse you of assault as a way to inflict pain or punishment on you. This can happen, sadly, in cases where an ex-spouse or partner is trying to get back at you. One example would be in child custody battles when one parent wants to paint the other as dangerous.
Steps to Take after an Accusation
Regardless of your guilt or innocence, the first step you should take after being charged is to contact an assault defense attorney. You should not attempt to represent or defend yourself in court. After you’ve reached out to a lawyer, take the following steps:
Gather as much evidence as you can, including the names and contact information of any witnesses that may help your case. These could be people who saw the altercation and can attest you were only defending yourself, or someone who can serve as an alibi if you were never actually at the scene of the crime.
Refuse to speak to the police. The police will also try to talk to you about the incident, but you do not have to answer any of their questions. In fact, it’s often best to remain silent and only speak with law enforcement with your attorney present.
Do not attempt to confront your accuser or share any details about the case on social media. Anything you say can be used against you. It’s always better to stay quiet and work with your attorney on your defense strategy.
With a simple assault charge, there are generally three main defenses you can use. The first is a mistaken identity defense. Often, an altercation can be a confusing event and the victim may point you out as the attacker even if you had no part in the fight. Another defense is self-defense. If someone else has attacked you and you didn’t provoke them or intimidate them first, you will likely try to defend yourself against harm. Lastly, you may have been defending someone else. In both these cases, if you can prove that the only physical violence you used was to protect yourself or someone else, you might be able to have your charges dropped.
How a Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help
False accusations in Pennsylvania occur more than they should. It may feel unfair or unjust that you have to go through the lengthy, labor-intensive process of defending yourself in court, but the potential consequences of not doing anything are even worse. You need a criminal defense attorney on your side who will fight to defend your rights and ensure you have the best chances of having your charges dropped completely. If you’re in the West Chester area or anywhere else in Pennsylvania, call us at the Strand Law Offices, LLC today to start working through your options.