Pennsylvania law categorizes crimes into several different categories. These categories are important to understand the elements involved in the crime and how the courts view them. Our criminal defense attorney team explains crimes against a person.
What is an example of a crime against a person?
Crimes against a person include:
- Assault and battery
- Sexual assault
- Stalking or harassment
- Domestic violence
- Neglect or abuse of a dependent person
- Discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure
- Human trafficking
What makes a type of crime a crime against a person?
A crime is a crime against a person if there is an element of force or abuse of another person. The offender may actually use force, or the threat of force may be present. A person does not necessarily need to suffer bodily harm. Bodily harm may not occur at all; it may be mild; or it may be very serious. A crime is classified as a crime against a person if the offense infringes upon or has the potential to infringe upon the physical autonomy of another person.
Crimes against a person and sentencing
From the perspective of a criminal defense attorney, there are a few reasons that categorization of crime is important. When a crime is classified as a crime against a person, the defendant should understand that courts tend to take these types of crime seriously. The sentencing hearing is very important.
It’s critical to prepare for the sentencing hearing in every way possible. That may mean statements from character witnesses. It may mean beginning treatment or substance abuse testing in advance of the hearing date. The victim may participate in sentencing, and it’s important to remember that the court is watching how you react to any statements that they make. Your criminal defense attorney can help you prepare for a sentencing for a crime that involves a person.
Victim rights and crimes against a person
The next thing to remember about crimes against a person is that a victim has the right to participate in the proceedings. Crime victims have the right to notice about court proceedings. If they suffer financial loss because of the offense, they have a right to reimbursement or restitution.
Pennsylvania law 18 Pa.C.S.A. Crimes and Offenses § 1106 requires the court to order full restitution regardless of the financial situation of the defendant. The defendant has the right to dispute the amount of restitution. If there is a dispute, the judge decides the payment amount. For a crime against a person, the defendant should be prepared for participation in the case by the victim.
Defenses for crimes against a person
There are also defenses for crimes against a person that may be appropriate to the case. For example, many crimes against a person are specific intent crimes. That means the defendant has to specifically act with intent for harm to occur or with knowledge of the likelihood of harm. Asserting a defense of lack of intent may be a viable option to defend against the charges. Your criminal defense attorney can help you determine what defenses to raise in your case.