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Simple assault

A person can be charged with simple assault if they try to cause bodily injury to another person , uses physical menace to make someone fear that they may be seriously physically harmed, causes a physical injury with a deadly weapon negligently, or tries to or actually conceals a hypodermic needle and intentionally or knowingly punctures law enforcement or corrections staff with that needle.

Aggravated assault

Plainly put, an aggravated assault is an assault that leads to serious bodily injury or is one where the defendant is acting so recklessly that they don’t care that what they’re doing can kill someone. In certain circumstances, attempting to cause serious bodily injury can draw an aggravated assault charge.

Assault of a law enforcement officer

Trying to or actually causing any bodily injury to an on-duty police officer is a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind that the statutory maximum sentence for this offense is 40 years and not the 2.0 years for most first-degree felonies.

Assault by prisoner

Any person who has been “committed” to a local, county, or state jail, prison, or any other correctional facility can be charged with a second degree felony for assaulting others. For this charge, assault includes an attack with a weapon, making someone else come into contact with bodily fluids, or using any other type of assaultive force.

Aggravated harassment by prisoner

If someone who has been committed to a jail, prison, or other corrections facility tries to or successfully causes another person to contact bodily fluids, they may be charged and convicted of aggravated harassment by a prisoner.

Assault by life prisoner

If a person who is serving life in prison commits an aggravated assault or attacks someone with force that’s likely to cause serious bodily injury, then they can be charged with an offense that is graded at the same level as second-degree murder.

If a person serving a life sentence intentionally brings someone into contact with bodily fluid can also be charged and convicted of assault by a life prisoner.

Recklessly endangering another person

A person can be charged with recklessly endangering another person (REAP) if they act in a way that puts another person at risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Terroristic threats

Although there’s a right to free speech, the First Amendment does not protect threats. If a person says something that threatens a crime of violence, leads to the evacuation of a “building, place of assembly or other facility of public transportation,” or if that threat causes terror or a “serious public inconvenience with reckless regard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience,” they can be charged and convicted of terroristic threats.

Propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle or onto a roadway

It’s illegal to send a “rock, stone, brick, or piece of iron, steel or other like metal, or any deadly or dangerous missile, or firebomb” into an occupied vehicle.

It’s also illegal to throw, drop, shoot, or otherwise make any “solid object” from an overpass or off-road property onto a roadway.

Discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure

Pennsylvania prohibits shooting a firearm into an “occupied structure.” Under the law, an occupied structure is defined as “any structure, vehicle or place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons or for carrying on business therein, whether or not a person is actually present.” So, if a home is set up for sleeping overnight, a person can be charged and convicted of discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure regardless of whether or not anyone is home.

Paintball guns and paintball markers

You can’t transport a paintball gun unless it’s completely empty, the propellant is detached from the gun, the paintballs are stored securely and separately from the gun, and the paintball gun can’t be easily accessed from the passenger compartment.

It’s also illegal to shoot a paintball gun unless you are actively participating in a paintball activity.

Use of tear or noxious gas in labor disputes

It’s illegal for anyone but the police to deploy tear gas or any other type of “noxious gas” during a labor dispute.


In Pennsylvania, the offense of harassment includes making physical contact with another person and communicating with them in inappropriate or annoying ways.

Cyber harassment of a child

The Pennsylvania Crimes Code says:

A person commits the crime of cyber harassment of a child if, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm, the person engages in a continuing course of conduct of making any of the following by electronic means directly to a child or by publication through an electronic social media service:

(i) seriously disparaging statement or opinion about the child’s physical characteristics, sexuality, sexual activity or mental or physical health or condition; or

(ii) threat to inflict harm.


If a person follows another person or engages in any other type of course of conduct or repeated actions that puts that other person in emotional distress or fear of bodily injury, the actor can be charged with stalking.

Falsely accusing someone of stalking is an offense under 18 Pa. C.S. § 2709.1(d).

Ethnic intimidation

The Crimes Code states:

person commits the offense of ethnic intimidation if, with malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, he commits an offense under any other provision of this article or under Chapter 33 (relating to arson, criminal mischief and other property destruction) exclusive of section 3307 (relating to institutional vandalism) or under section 3503 (relating to criminal trespass) with respect to such individual or his or her property or with respect to one or more members of such group or to their property.

Assault on sports official

Assaulting a referee or umpire at just about any organized sports event in Pennsylvania is a separate crime.

Crimes against care-dependent persons

In Pennsylvania, a care-dependent person is defined as “any adult who, due to physical or cognitive disability or impairment, requires assistance to meet his needs for food, shelter, clothing, personal care or health care.”

Neglect of care-dependent person

If a care-taker intentionally, knowingly or recklessly fails to provide the care, treatment, and services that a care-dependent adult needs, they can be charged and convicted of neglect of a care-dependent person.

Abuse of care-dependent person

A person can be charged and convicted of abuse of a care-dependent person if they direct actions consistent with simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, terroristic threats, or stalking at a care-dependent person.

Unauthorized administration of intoxicant

Under Pennsylvania law, you can be convicted of a third-degree felony if you give someone a drug or other “intoxicant” 1.) without their consent and 2.) with the intent to commit rapeinvoluntary deviate sexual intercourseindecent assault, or aggravated indecent assault.

Threat to use weapons of mass destruction

It’s illegal to threaten to use or plant a weapon of mass destruction.

Weapons of mass destruction

It’s also a state offense if you create or possess a weapon of mass destruction in Pennsylvania.


Under Pennsylvania law, terrorism is defined as committing a violent offense in order to intimidate or coerce the general public, influence the government policy by force or coercion, or to try to affect the actions of the government through that act of violence.


Since 2016, applying pressure to the neck or obstruction a person’s nose and mouth is illegal if they intend to interfere with their “breathing or circulation” is an offense separate from simple assault, aggravated assault, and homicide in Pennsylvania.