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Home 9 Blog 9 The Difference Between Being Charged With Manslaughter & Aggravated Assault in PA
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If you are facing manslaughter or aggravated assault criminal charges in the state of Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the differences between them. These two crimes may seem similar on the surface, but they have distinct definitions and carry different punishments.

Knowing what you’re being charged with can help you make the right decisions about choosing your criminal defense team, and we will do just that in this blog. We will discuss what each criminal charge means, the penalties for each, and how you move forward after being charged. Additionally, we will discuss the legal differences between these charges and how they impact your future if you are found guilty. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our law firm today to see how we can help if you need a criminal defense lawyer.

What Is The Legal Definition of Manslaughter in Pennsylvania?

Manslaughter is considered criminal homicide in Pennsylvania, but the legal definition may vary depending on the circumstances of the case. However, manslaughter may be classified into two different categories: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

What Does Voluntary Manslaughter Mean?

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when you kill another person without justifiable cause if you act under a sudden and intense passion at the time of the killing. This could be because you were provoked by the person you killed or by another who you are trying to kill, but you negligently or accidentally caused the death of the individual killed.

An example of this crime could be you come home to find your partner in bed with another person. In a fit of rage, you grab a nearby weapon and kill the person. You may argue that the sudden and intense passion you experienced at that moment made you act impulsively without thinking about the consequences. However, it is important to note that even in situations where intense emotions are involved, the act of killing another person is still a serious crime.

What Does Voluntary Manslaughter Sentencing Look Like in Pennsylvania?

Regardless of if you were provoked or believe the killing was justified, when you are charged with voluntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania, it is a first-degree felony. You can spend up to 20 years in prison and pay up to $25,000 in fines.

What Does Involuntary Manslaughter Mean?

Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, occurs when you are doing either an unlawful or lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, unintentionally causing the death of another person. Additionally, you are doing this without malice while engaging in reckless or negligent conduct.

In Pennsylvania, an example of this type of manslaughter could be a case where you were driving while texting and caused a fatal car accident. You did not intend to cause harm but exhibited reckless behavior by taking your attention off the road and using your phone.

What Does Involuntary Manslaughter Sentencing Look Like in Pennsylvania?

When you are found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, in which you will receive up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. However, if you are found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and the victim is under the age of 12 years old and in your care, you can be charged with a second-degree felony. In the state of Pennsylvania, a second-degree felony carries prison time of up to 10 years and up to $25,000 in fines.

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What Is The Legal Definition of Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania?

Like manslaughter, aggravated assault is a serious offense in Pennsylvania. In general terms, it is defined as causing serious bodily injury to another person, demonstrating extreme indifference to their life.

What Causes A Case To Be Considered An Aggravated Assault?

As we summarized above, the aggravating factor, in this case, is “the infliction or attempted infliction of serious bodily harm, in a manner demonstrating extreme indifference to the value of human life.” The statute also states that if you have the intent to cause serious bodily injury and you cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury, it is still considered aggravated assault.

It is important to note that if the other person has a serious fear of imminent harm, you can still be charged with aggravated assault, even if no physical contact occurred. Additionally, if you attempt to use a deadly weapon on another person, you will also be charged with an aggravated assault.

What’s An Example of Aggravated Assault in Pennsylvania?

An example of aggravated assault in Pennsylvania would be if you were to attack another person with a knife, causing a serious bodily injury that requires medical attention. Another example would be if you intentionally hit another person with your car, causing serious injuries. In both scenarios, your actions demonstrated a clear intention to cause harm, resulting in a serious bodily injury that was enough to justify heightened legal consequences.

What Does Aggravated Assault Sentencing Look Like in Pennsylvania?

If you are found guilty of aggravated assault in Pennsylvania, are over the age of 18, and your victim is a child less than 13 years old, a police officer, firefighter, state or federal government official, public transportation worker, or other government agency employee, you will be sentenced to a first-degree felony. This can lead to up to 20 years in prison and no more than $25,000 in fines.

When you plead guilty to aggravated assault charges with a second-degree felony sentence, your victim or situation could be a combination of the following:

  • You assaulted one of the public servants listed above when they were on duty
  • You were menacing to one of the public servants listed above when they were on duty
  • You use tear gas or an electronic incapacitation device on one of the public servants listed above when they are on duty
  • You assault a member of a school’s staff
  • You use a deadly weapon during the assault
  • You are 18 years or older and assault a child less than six years of age

Second-degree felony sentencing in Pennsylvania carries up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

What’s The Difference Between Being Guilty Of Aggravated Assault vs. Manslaughter?

Being charged with aggravated assault and manslaughter in Pennsylvania has significant legal differences between them. The punishment for voluntary manslaughter is typically less severe than that for murder but can still result in significant jail time, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Involuntary manslaughter can also result in jail time, but the sentence is generally less severe than that for aggravated assault.

It’s worth noting that aggravating factors, such as using a deadly weapon or your prior criminal record, can significantly impact the severity of the sentence for both aggravated assault and manslaughter. The exact nature of the crime and the circumstances surrounding it will also be considered when determining your appropriate punishment.

If You Need An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case, Turn To Marinaro Law Firm

Whether you are being charged with aggravated assault or manslaughter, we can help at Marinaro Law Firm. With decades of experience in criminal defense for Lancaster, PA, we can assist you in fighting to ensure your trial is fair. When you need a defense that will work for and with you, schedule a legal consultation with us today.


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