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AGGRAVATED ASSAULT: CROSSING GUARDS ARE WITHIN SCOPE OF PROTECTED CLASS

The PA Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. McFadden, No. 635 EDA 2014 (February 15, 2017), holding that there was sufficient evidence for the trial court to find McFadden guilty of aggravated assault due to the victim’s protected status as a school crossing guard.

McFadden was charged after being involved in a fight with an on-duty school crossing guard, employed by the city of Philadelphia. After a bench trial, McFadden was convicted of the offenses of aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and criminal mischief.

The aggravated assault charge was based on the special, protected status accorded to certain persons under the aggravated assault statute. McFadden challenged the trial court’s conclusion that the crossing guard fell within this protected status.

The statute at issue states that “a person is guilty of aggravated assault if he . . . attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), in the performance of duty.” Subsection (c) of the statute then enumerates those persons that make up this class of protected persons. Those persons include “[an] employee … of any elementary or secondary publicly funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education … acting in the scope of his or her employment or because of his or her employment relationship to the school.” Additionally, other persons protected include “any person employed to assist or who assists any Federal, State or local law enforcement official[s].”

The Superior Court noted that the question of whether a school crossing guard is encompassed within the protected class was a question of first impression for a Pennsylvania appellate court. In constructing the statute at issue, the Court concluded that, although the crossing guard was not an employee of the school district and therefore not protected under that category, she was assisting local law enforcement in the performance of her duties and was therefore within that category of protected persons.

Accordingly, the Superior Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence for the trial court to find McFadden guilty of aggravated assault pursuant to the applicable statute.

CASE LINK: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/J-S84020-16o%20-%2010299379416063273.pdf?cb=1

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