New Jersey law defines an assault charge by the injury sustained by the victim. There are two (2) versions of assault: simple assault and aggravated assault.
Simple Assault is a Disorderly Persons Offense, which carries up to 6 months in jail as a penalty. Aggravated Assault can be either a second, third, or fourth-degree charge.
If you have been charged with a simple or aggravated assault offense of any degree in Burlington County, you should seek legal counsel from an experienced criminal lawyer at Rosenberg | Perry & Associates.
Possible Defenses to Assault Charges
In order for a lawyer to properly defend you against an assault charge, you must be open and honest with your lawyer. There are a few possible avenues an experienced attorney can explore in preparing a defense against the charges, including:
- Self-Defense – A viable defense against an assault charge is a justifiable claim of self-defense. According to the New Jersey Self-Defense Law, use of force is justifiable when a person reasonably believes that force is immediately necessary to protect themselves against unlawful force by another person.
- Alibi – If the defendant was not present during the attack, the lawyer may be able to use this to defend against an assault charge. The defendant must be able to provide substantial proof that he/she was not present at the time of the attack.
- Statute of Limitations – If the assault occurred more than two years before an assault charge is filed, a lawyer may be able to use this to get the case dismissed. Assault and battery charges must be filed by the plaintiff within two years of the alleged event taking place.
Simple Assault in New Jersey
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a), the legal elements of simple assault are:
- You attempt to cause or cause bodily injury to another;
- You negligently cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- You attempt to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Under any of these scenarios, simple assault is a disorderly persons offense. Mutual fighting is characterized as a petty disorderly persons offense.
Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
According to NJ Statute: 2C:12-1b, the legal elements of aggravated assault are:
- Attempt to cause serious bodily injury with extreme indifference;
- Recklessly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Recklessly display extreme indifference to human life.
Aggravated Assault is a serious criminal offense. There are a number of different variations of aggravated assault with offenses ranging from fourth degree to second degree depending on the circumstances of the alleged conduct.
Possible Sentencing for Assault
Criminal defense charges typically have maximum penalties. Simple assault and aggravated assault have different penalties due to the severity of the crime.
- Simple Assault – Up to 6 months in jail or $1,000 fine.
- Aggravated Assault –
- Second Degree – 5-10 years in prison with fines of up to $150,000
- Third Degree – 3-5 years in prison with fines of up to $15,000
- Fourth Degree – Up to 18 months in prison with fines of up to $10,000
Additional penalties might include restitution to the victim, probation and electronic monitoring and the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm or a weapon.
Substantial Bodily Injury vs. Serious Bodily Injury
The level of charges brought by the State depends heavily on the level of injury that is sustained by the victim.
New Jersey defines bodily injury as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. This is virtually “any” form of pain.
Substantial bodily injury is bodily injury that results in a temporary loss of the function of any bodily member or organ or temporary loss of one of the five (5) senses.
Serious bodily injury is bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Individuals charged with assault crimes in New Jersey should call Rosenberg | Perry & Associates to receive a free consultation regarding the specific circumstances of their case and defense options.
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