In Pennsylvania, the crime of Aggravated Assault requires a showing of “intent” in certain circumstance. For Example, 18 PACS 2701(a)(1) states:
(a) Offense defined.–A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he: (1) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
But, how does the Commonwealth prove “intent”? Usually, the Commonwealth would have to point to some action before the assault that shows the Defendant intended to cause injury. If a witness testifies that the Defendant stated, “I am going to make you wish you were never born,” then the Commonwealth has intent.
A recent Superior Court decision has carved out another way for the Commonwealth to prove intent. Now, the Commonwealth may provide evidence of the Defendant’s actions AFTER a fight or brawl in order to show intent on the part of the Defendant. According to Comm. v. Burton, 2010 PA Super 138, the Prosecutor is able to sustain a conviction of Aggravated Assault when a victim sustains serious bodily injury from a single punch and the comments of the Defendant AFTER seeing the victim seriously hurt indicates intent to inflict the serious bodily injury.
What sort of ramifications does this have on you? Before this case, the Commonwealth had to prove intent prior to you hitting someone. However, now, if you hit someone, and in the adrenaline high after the fight make a bunch of statements, those statements can be used to show the intent needed to prove aggravated assault. A conviction could come with a jail sentence of anywhere from 10 – 20 years in prison.