When tempers flare and physical violence occurs, people don't always
realize the ramifications of their actions. What many people may view
as a simple bar fight, prosecutors may view as an assault with a deadly weapon.
Pennsylvania law defines different levels of "physical attacks"
in terms of simple assault and aggravated assault. However, lingering
behind as assault could be the crushing punishment of a deadly-weapon
A deadly-weapon enhancement may apply to many crimes such as assault, robbery,
theft, etc. A "deadly weapon" is defined as any firearm, whether
loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of
producing death or serious bodily injury, or any other device or instrumentality
which, in the manner in which it is used or intended to be used, is calculated
or likely to produce death or serious bodily injury. Further, "serious
bodily injury" is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial
risk of death or causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or the protracted
loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Despite the common-sense definitions listed above, Pennsylvania courts
have declared that certain objects such as BB guns, baseball bats, cars,
forks, and tire irons may be considered deadly weapons in certain circumstances.
Even where a victim wasn't injured, a deadly-weapon enhancement may apply.
The significance of a deadly-weapon enhancement lies in the sentencing
judge's requirement to increase the amount of jail time for the underlying
offense. For example, a person with no criminal history who has been found
guilty of bank robbery (no injuries) would likely fall into the standard
sentencing range of 6-14 months of imprisonment (for the minimum amount
of time served in jail). However, if a bank robber pointed a gun (or BB
gun, baseball bat, knife, etc.) at the bank teller, then the deadly-weapon
enhancement could add 18-26 months to the minumum sentence. In simple
terms, a deadly-weapon enhancement would likely double or triple an offender's
Pennsylvania case law expands the common-sense definition of which objects
may be considered deadly weapons. Anger, intoxication, addiction or fear
could cause a normally peaceful person to grab an object (a chair, glass
bottle, rock etc.) and to strike an aggressive person. Even where someone
thought he was defending himself (which must be "reasonable"
under the circumstances), he could find himself sepnding many months in prison.
Fortunately, experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys can
protect your liberty by fighting against a deadly-weapon enhancement and
by eliminating it from the judge's consideration. Do not let a drunken
mistake or a hot temper land you behind bars. For more questions about
assault and deadly weapons call Rogan Law today.