Violent Crimes

Protecting Your Rights and Future
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Violent Crimes in Pennsylvania

Violent crime charges come with serious penalties and may jeopardize your reputation and freedom. If you or someone you love has been charged with a violent crime, you need an experienced, knowledgeable defense lawyer to help you navigate the legal process and provide a vigorous defense in court. At Gross McGinley, LLP, our criminal defense lawyers believe everyone deserves competent legal representation without judgment. We’re dedicated to safeguarding the rights of those charged with violent crimes in Pennsylvania.

What to know about violent crime charges in PA:

What violent crimes can someone be charged with in Pennsylvania?

What is criminal homicide?

How is assault defined in Pennsylvania?

Is robbery considered a violent crime in Pennsylvania?

How are rape and sexual assault charged?

What are the penalties for violent crimes in Pennsylvania?

How can the criminal defense lawyers at Gross McGinley, LLP, help with my case?



Types of Violent Crimes in PA

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers represent clients in all types of violent crime cases. Most violent crimes in Pennsylvania are charged as felonies, and include:



Criminal Homicide

Criminal homicide is a classification used when a defendant is accused of intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causing the death of another person. Criminal homicide charges include:

Murder is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit. Murder of the first degree usually is charged when the killing is intentional. Murder of the second degree is charged if a defendant was engaged in the perpetration of a felony when the death occurred. Murder of the third degree encompasses all other types of murder. All murder charges are classified as felonies, and a conviction for murder of the first degree can result in a life sentence.

Voluntary manslaughter is the unjustified killing of another person. It is charged as a first-degree felony. Some circumstances in which prosecutors might bring voluntary manslaughter charges include:

  • Someone was provoked and killed another person in the heat of passion
  • A person was provoked but accidentally killed someone who did not provoke them
  • Someone intentionally or knowingly killed another person because they believed it was justified, but the belief was unreasonable

Involuntary manslaughter may be charged when a person’s grossly negligent or reckless actions caused the death of another person. Involuntary manslaughter usually is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. However, it may be charged as a second-degree felony if the victim was under the age of 12 and in a person’s care or custody at the time of death.




In Pennsylvania, assault is classified as simple assault or aggravated assault.

Someone may be charged with simple assault if they:

  • Attempt to cause bodily injury
  • Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person
  • Negligently cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon
  • Put someone in fear of bodily injury by physical menace

The threat of or intent to cause harm can be charged as simple assault, even if you don’t cause bodily injury. Simple assault often is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor. In cases where parties are involved in a mutual fight, charges may be downgraded to a third-degree misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, any act of violence against a child is considered child abuse and may be charged more harshly.

Causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury can result in an aggravated assault charge, which is a much more serious crime. Pennsylvania criminal law defines serious bodily injury as the harm that puts someone at high risk of death or permanent injury. If someone uses a firearm or deadly weapon while committing assault, they likely will be charged with aggravated assault.




Robbery is considered a violent crime in Pennsylvania. It involves harming or threatening to harm someone by using physical force or a weapon. Someone may be charged with robbery if they did one or more of the following while committing a theft crime:

  • Caused serious bodily injury to another person
  • Threatened serious bodily injury or put someone in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury
  • Committed or threatened to commit another first- or second-degree felony
  • Caused or threatened to inflict bodily injury
  • Physically took property using force
  • Took or demanded money from a financial institution (bank robbery)

Under Pennsylvania criminal law, robbery may be charged as a first-, second-, or third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances.



Rape And Sexual Assault

Pennsylvania law enforcement officials take sex crimes very seriously and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Rape is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with a person by using force or threats of force. It is also considered rape when:

  • A victim is unconscious, or the perpetrator knows the victim is unaware that sexual intercourse is occurring
  • The perpetrator has used a drug, alcohol, or another substance to keep the victim from resisting
  • When the victim suffers from a mental disability that makes them incapable of consenting

Rape of a child under the age of 13 or rape of a child with serious bodily injury are first-degree felonies that carry harsh penalties.

In Pennsylvania, sexual assault is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse without the other person’s consent. Rape charges typically are first-degree felonies, while sexual assault is a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania. Our criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in the nuances involved in these cases.



Penalties for Violent Crimes in Pennsylvania

The charges and penalties for violent crimes vary widely. A third-degree felony conviction can carry up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Being convicted of a second-degree felony can result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000. A first-degree felony conviction can lead to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Being convicted of first- or second-degree murder can carry a sentence of life in prison with or without the possibility of parole or even the death penalty. Although Gov. Tom Wolf placed a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania, defendants convicted of federal murder or capital murder charges still may be sentenced to death. When faced with such grave consequences, it’s crucial to have an experienced lawyer who will fight for your rights and provide an aggressive defense.



Why Choose Our Criminal Defense Lawyers?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses all the resources at its disposal to prosecute these crimes. Without a suitable defense strategy, being convicted of a violent crime can be life-altering. Each situation is unique, and many different types of defenses can be developed in cases involving violent crimes. No one should have to navigate the criminal justice system alone or with subpar legal representation.

Our team includes former prosecutors who possess a broad range of knowledge and understand all facets of violent crime charges. We thoroughly investigate your case, develop creative defense strategies, and vehemently defend your rights. We know that sometimes good people find themselves in unfavorable situations. Our criminal defense lawyers won’t judge you. We’re dedicated to serving you with integrity, compassion, and respect and working toward the best possible outcome for your case.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you’ve been charged with a violent crime, our experienced defense lawyers at Gross McGinley, LLP, can help. For more than four decades, we’ve provided forward-thinking legal representation to clients throughout Pennsylvania. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call us at 610-820-5450.

Violent Crimes Team

View Profile Gross McGinley Allentown Law Firm Attorney Michael J. Blum

Michael J. Blum

Senior Counsel
View Profile Gross McGinley Allentown Law Firm Attorney Robert M. Campbell

Robert M. Campbell

Senior Counsel
View Profile Lead Attorney Gross McGinley Allentown Law Firm Sara Hart Charette

Sarah Hart Charette

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Julianne Danchak

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Andrea Figueroa

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Eric A. Harakal

View Profile Lehigh Valley criminal defense lawyer Philip Lauer

Philip D. Lauer

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Alexander O. Ward


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