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Violent Crimes Defense Attorney

Criminal Homicide

Is categorized in Pennsylvania as Murder of the 1st Degree (a premeditated, intentional killing), Murder of the 2nd Degree (a homicide committed during the course of a felony) and Murder of the 3rd Degree (defined as “all other kinds of murder,” this offense requires “malice,” a legal term generally defined as “hardness of heart, cruelty, and recklessness of consequences.”)

Representative cases of mine have included representing accomplices to an underlying felony (i.e. robbery) who find themselves charged with 2nd Degree Murder when another accomplice commits a homicide during the course of the robbery. 3rd Degree Murder cases have included Homicide by Vehicle cases involving allegations of “sustained recklessness”…an example being particularly extended periods of dangerous driving, perhaps with an attempt by others to get the driver to pull over, prior to the accident causing death.

Aggravated Assault, Assault with a deadly weapon and related gun charges

Aggravated Assault involves attempting to cause or causing serious bodily injury, which is defined as injury creating a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ. Aggravated Assault also includes attempting to cause, or causing, bodily injury (impairment of physical condition or substantial pain) with a deadly weapon. Finally, an attempt or causing of bodily injury on certain protected class members (i.e. police officers or school teachers) is also chargeable under this felony statute.

Aggravated assault is typically charged by the Commonwealth whenever there is any evidence of an attempt to cause serious bodily injury or serious injury incurred by the alleged victim. I have successfully defended against this charge, notwithstanding clear serious bodily injury suffered by the victim, on the theory that the Commonwealth cannot establish “malice” as defined above in the context of third degree murder. This is a very important concept for the effective defense attorney to review in assessing whether Aggravated Assault can actually be established by the Commonwealth beyond a reasonable doubt, as malice is clearly a required fact that the District Attorney must be able to establish to the fact-finder.

Simple Assault

Simple Assault is a misdemeanor involving either the infliction of bodily injury or putting someone in fear of “imminent serious bodily injury” (the classic example being pointing a gun at someone without legal justification).

A successful defense of this charge might involve having it downgraded to a summary offense (i.e. Harassment) resolving the case quickly with the payment of a fine.

Manslaughter

Voluntary Manslaughter is an intentional killing committed “under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation,” this includes a scenario wherein the defendant unreasonably believes that the homicide was justified (e.g. an unreasonable act of self-defense).

Involuntary Manslaughter is an unintentional killing committed during the course of reckless or grossly negligent conduct.

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Peter E. Kratsa, Esq.
MacElree Harvey, Ltd.
17 West Miner Street
West Chester, PA 19382
Phone: 610.436.0100
Fax: 610.430.7885
[email protected]