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What Constitutes a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania?

The actual Pennsylvania definition of a violent crime is behavior by a person (or persons) against another person (or personal property) whose main intent is to threaten, attempt, or inflict physical harm. The seriousness of the violent crime (and possibly the punishment) is determined by the severity of the injuries that the victim obtained.  If weapons were used, and if the alleged perpetrator has a past criminal record, these facts may also affect both the seriousness of the charge and the punishment.

There are many crimes that Pennsylvania criminal attorneys may handle, but cases involving violent crimes can be another matter altogether. By retaining a violent crime attorney, you can be optimistic that they can look over your case, and from the outset, help you to mitigate the charges or punishment.

1 What Constitutes a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania?

There can be many things that can be the motive for a violent crime. Some examples may be arson, aggravated assault & battery, domestic violence, hate crimes, and of course, homicide. Most all these charges (and there are more) carry heavy penalties and should only be handled by a violent crime attorney.

Homicide and manslaughter, because they intend to kill another, are the most serious violent crimes and may carry years of prison time and even execution as punishment. The United States Department of Justice categorizes violent crimes into four categories:

  • Murder
  • Rape, or another type of sexual assault
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault and simple assault

A violent crime attorney will use these categories and ensuing charges to best determine how to defend your case and get you the best possible outcome. They will explain the difference between an objective violent crime and violence that occurred to end the situation (as in a robbery).

These cases are overly complex due to their very nature. Has passion entered into the commission of the crime? Was the victim harmed due to pure hatred, meaning it was a hate crime? Many questions must be asked to mount a defense that is both rational and effective.

By far, in the United States., assault is the most common of the violent crimes. For example, in an assault case, the charges and punishments may vary greatly from a misdemeanor to a felony. When you are charged with a felony violent crime, getting the help you need as quickly as possible may be the only thing that keeps you from years of jail time.

What are Some of the Examples of Felony Violent Crimes?

  • First-Degree felonies include rape, kidnapping, and arson that endangers lives
  • Second-Degree felonies include robbery (where no persons are present), indecent assault, and statutory sexual assault
  • Third-Degree felonies can be carrying a gun (or weapon) without a permit, institutional sexual assault of a minor, and threats of terrorism
  • Non-Categorized felonies are first, second, or third-degree murder and second or third-degree murder of an unborn child

It is important to note that the perpetrator of the crime does not have to come into physical contact with the victim(s). This is important to the defense, however and helps to illustrate the complexities that may be involved in the defense. The sentencing ranges greatly for all these types of charges.

2 What Constitutes a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania?

For example:

  • A third-Degree felony can carry up to 7 years in jail, and up to a $15,000 fine
  • A second-Degree felony can carry up to a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison
  • A First-Degree felony imposes not more than 20 years in jail and up to a $25,000 fine
  • Murder (First- or Second-degree) is, of course, the worst, and could impose life imprisonment, mandatory life in prison, or the death penalty

The charges and punishments can vary greatly, so it is imperative to retain a Lemoyne violent crime defense lawyer fighting to protect the innocent and keep control of your future.

What are Some Common Defenses Against a Violent Crime Charge?

A good defense can usually always be mounted for both violent and non-violent crimes.  However, the defense will vary depending on the specific facts of any given case. A properly raised defense, such as consent, can drastically reduce, mitigate, or even remove the legal penalties associated with a crime. Using rape as the charge, if consent were to be proven, the charges would most likely be dropped.

Some defenses may be more common than others. For instance, self-defense is a commonly raised defense for many types of violent crimes. In most states, including Pennsylvania, people have the right to use deadly force to defend themselves if they are in danger of attack in their home. The concept behind these laws is called the castle doctrine. This doctrine originated during the Roman Republic and its name comes from English common law which states that your home is your castle.

3 What Constitutes a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s law was amended in 2011. Using the current law,  if you are confronted by an attacker wielding a deadly weapon even when outside of your home, you do not have a duty to flee; you can respond with lethal force if you are in imminent danger of being killed, sexually assaulted, or seriously injured.

The stand your ground law is akin to this but includes anywhere outside of your home that you may be faced with a life-threatening attack by another. In other words, if you had to act in self-defense and committed a violent crime or even murder, this may be your best defense.

So, it is clear that if you are charged with a violent crime, the charges and penalties can be varied and severe. There are defenses, but you need guidance immediately. Your entire life may hang in the balance, and you need the immediate intervention of a violent crimes attorney firm that will provide the help you need.


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