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Can a car accident result in an assault charge?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2021 | Criminal Defense

In general, a criminal charge for assault requires that the defendant have intent to assault a victim. In the case of vehicular assault, however, the intent to harm another person is not an element that a prosecutor must prove for a judge or jury to find a defendant guilty of assault. 

In Pennsylvania, a motor vehicle accident may amount to a violent crime in the eyes of the law and lead to a felony conviction. Understanding what constitutes aggravated assault by vehicle may help drivers to be more conscientious about safe driving. 

The definition of aggravated assault by vehicle

Pennsylvania’s statutory law defines aggravated assault by vehicle as causing serious bodily injury to another person while operating a vehicle recklessly or with gross negligence. Circumstances which may lead to assault by vehicle include driving in a rush, driving while angry, or even distracted driving. A finding that a driver was operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or failed to abide by traffic laws may illustrate that a person was driving recklessly or with gross negligence. 


It is important to recognize that a criminal charge for aggravated assault by vehicle is far more serious than a charge for reckless driving and the consequences after a guilty verdict  be considerable. A third degree felony conviction for this crime could result in considerable fines, a prison sentence, or a license suspension. An accident that occurs while a person is driving without a license or driving in an emergency response area could increase a prison sentence by up to two years. 

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Defense: Law, Tactics, and Procedure | by Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. | Revere Legal Publishers