Situations that trigger assault charges are typically highly charged, and the heat of these exchanges may not die down right away. If you are in this position, you can be scared, angry and stressed out.
Under these circumstances, people can make mistakes that only make things worse. Thus, you would be wise to avoid the following missteps if you are charged with assault in Pennsylvania.
Assuming it’s just a minor offense
Assault charges are not uncommon and can stem from a range of altercations. As such, some people tend to minimize an assault allegation and dismiss it as little more than a minor offense.
However, there are serious penalties for assault, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. Depending on the details of the case, you could be facing:
- A jail or prison sentence
- Diversion programs
Further, an offense can leave a stain on a criminal record that could affect your job, where you can live and your reputation.
Ignoring mitigating and aggravating factors
Several factors can affect the degree, number, and nature of assault charges you could face. These are mitigating and aggravating favors.
Mitigating factors are those that support leniency. Some examples of these include:
- Accidental contact
- A difficult personal history
- Evidence of addiction
- Lack of harm
On the other hand, aggravating factors can mean harsher penalties. These factors might include:
- A history of assault convictions
- Causing significant harm
- Committing an assault in front of a child
- Use of a weapon
It is crucial to take these factors seriously. Defending yourself can mean identifying and highlighting mitigating factors while challenging aggravating elements. Failing to do this can mean facing unnecessarily harsh penalties.
Pleading guilty prematurely
Too often, people want to put the situation behind them as quickly and quietly as possible, so they assume they should just plead guilty.
While this might seem to save time or keep things quiet, it could ultimately worsen your situation. The charge could follow you around for years and put a target on your back in future altercations.
Avoiding these mistakes is crucial, and talking to an attorney at the Quinn Law Firm can help you do so. If you are facing assault charges in Pennsylvania, you can call 814-833-2222 to discuss your case and how to defend against the accusations.