If you are charged with assault in New Jersey, you could be facing some very serious consequences. An assault conviction can not only result in fines and jail time, but a conviction can take a toll on your personal life and future. No matter your charges, you have a right to defend yourself. At Sarofiem & Antoun, LLC, we are here to help you with your assault case from start to finish. Contact us today to learn more about how we can diligently help with your defense.
What is New Jersey Assault?
When you hear the word assault, often the first thing to come to mind is a physical attack. Perhaps you think of someone hitting, punching, or kicking another person. The actual legal definition is much more specific. The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice section 2C:12-1 gives the exact legal definition of assault and splits assault crimes into two levels: simple assault and aggravated assault.
A simple assault is a less serious form of assault. There are three ways you can be found guilty of committing a simple assault.
- You attempt to cause bodily injury to another person, or you purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person.
- While using a deadly weapon, you negligently cause bodily injury to another person.
- Your actions made another person fearful of “imminent serious bodily injury.”
To obtain a simple assault conviction, it is important to remember that a prosecutor must prove each and every element of the crime.
- Under the first prong, it is not enough to simply show that another person got hurt, as an injury can be accidental. Instead, for an assault conviction, the prosecutor must show that you purposely, knowingly, or recklessly tried to hurt or actually hurt another person.
- Under the second prong, the prosecutor must prove that you were using a deadly weapon, not just any type of weapon, and were negligent.
- Under the third prong, the prosecutor must prove that the victim was fearful of imminent, which means immediate, serious bodily injury, not just any type of injury. It is the role of a skilled criminal defense attorney to show that, based on the facts of the case, these elements are not met.
Consequences of a New Jersey Simple Assault Conviction
Simple assault is generally considered a disorderly persons offense, which means it is a misdemeanor offense. A person can face up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 fine. If the assault occurred during a fight, and both people had agreed to the fight, the assault is considered a petty persons offense. This is also a misdemeanor charge with the consequence of up to 30 days in jail.
As is implied by its name, aggravated assault is a more serious assault charge. Assault is generally found to be aggravated assault based on the facts of the situation including the seriousness of the injury or the type of person the assault was committed against. Section 2C:12-1(B) of the New Jersey criminal code covers ways a person can be found guilty of aggravated assault. You can be found guilty of aggravated assault if:
- You attempt to cause, purposely or knowingly cause, or recklessly, with “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” cause serious bodily injury to another person.
- You attempt to cause, or purposely or knowingly cause bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon.
- You recklessly cause bodily harm to another person with a deadly weapon.
- With “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” you knowingly point a firearm at another person (even if you think it’s not loaded)
- You commit a simple assault against a specific type of person. This can include law enforcement, emergency personnel like firefighters or first responders, school employees, healthcare workers, judges, and state employees.
Just like with simple assault, a prosecutor must prove each element of aggravated assault. The prosecutor must prove intent, show that a deadly weapon was used, or show that the victim was a specific type of person. A skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help show an assault was not aggravated assault by showing that these elements are not met. If the elements are not met, it can result in a reduction of charges (down to simple assault) or even a total dismissal of the charge.
Consequences of a New Jersey Aggravated Assault Conviction
When it comes to punishment for an aggravated assault conviction, it varies greatly depending on the circumstances and degree of the assault. Using a deadly weapon or committing an assault on a person like a police officer are facts that would lead to a more severe sentence. Consequences for an assault can range from up to 18 months in prison to 10 years in prison. You could also be required to pay a hefty fine of up to $15,000.
Defenses to Assault Charges
Assault charges of any kind can be frightening and overwhelming, especially since the consequences can be so severe. However, there are defenses to an assault charges available such as:
- Defense of others
- Lack of Intent
- False Accusation or mistaken identity
A knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney can look at the facts of your case and determine available defenses or identify ways to show required elements are not met.
Get Help from a Skilled New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
No matter what facts surround your assault charges, every criminal charge is worth defending. No one wants a criminal record–even a misdemeanor charge can affect your personal life and make things like getting a job, getting into school, or getting a loan more difficult.
If you have been arrested on assault charges, it is very important to contact the experienced assault defense attorneys at Sarofiem & Antoun, LLC. We offer a free, confidential case consultations where we can talk about the facts of your case, answer your questions, and discuss how to move forward with your defense. You can contact us anytime, 24/7, by calling or texting us at (201) 792-3333. We are committed to providing dedicated representation and helping you get the best possible outcome in your case!