In New Jersey, a simple assault charge is typically categorized as a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) but carries with it stiff penalties and a criminal record.
Assault is a person injuring or attempting to injure another person without legal justification. Furthermore, the injuries do not have to be sustaining. Instead, even temporary pain or a physical threat can be considered assault. Based on the way the injury was caused and the seriousness of the injury, an assault charge can be classified as a simple assault or an aggravated assault.
If you or a family member has been charged with simple assault in the New Jersey area, it is critical that you find trusted legal guidance to help you defend yourself against criminal charges with serious consequences.
What is Simple Assault?
Any unwanted or offensive physical contact can be considered assault. In New Jersey, assault is separated into two different charges: simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is the less serious of the two.
New Jersey laws (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) allow the charges of simple assault to be filed under the following conditions:
- If a person attempts to cause bodily injury to another person, or who recklessly, knowingly, or purposely causes bodily injury to someone else
- If bodily injury is negligently caused with a deadly weapon
- If someone threatens another person or puts them in fear of serious bodily injury through physical menace (e.g., brandishing a knife or pointing a gun)
In New Jersey, simple assault can be treated as a crime of the fourth degree — carrying a potential prison term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $1,000 or both — if the assault was committed:
- while working as an employee in a care facility against an institutionalized elderly person.
- while in the presence of a child under 16 years of age at a school or community sponsored youth sports event.
What are the Potential Penalties of a Simple Assault Conviction?
If you are convicted of simple assault in New Jersey, you may be:
- sentenced to serve up to 6 months in jail
- subject to a fine of up to $1,000
- required to pay restitution to the victim
- required to pay court costs
- required to perform community service
- required to attend anger management classes
- sentenced to probation and electronic monitoring
- prevented from owning or possessing a firearm or weapon.
Not everyone convicted of simple assault serves jail time, but instead, the sentence could be suspended and the defendant put on probation.
Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault
The specific circumstances and severity of the alleged crime dictate whether the assault is treated as a simple or aggravated assault. In the situation where the injury is more serious or a weapon is used, the case could be charged as an aggravated assault.
What would normally be considered a simple assault, if directed toward a police officer, fireman, school teacher, or many other types of professionals, will likely be upgraded to aggravated assault.
There are additional situations that increase the likelihood a simple assault could be elevated to aggravated assault such as if the assault occurs while evading arrest or is against a family member.
Aggravated assault carries more severe penalties and is tried as a second-, third-, or fourth-degree aggravated assault.
Defending Against Simple Assault
A skilled criminal defense attorney will work to find ways to help you avoid a conviction or lessen the consequences. Factors that will be considered include:
- The unique circumstances of your crime
- The location of the assault (e.g., on school property)
- If the assaulted person was a minor
- If there was bodily injury
- If the encounter was by mutual consent
- If other charges are being brought against you at the same time
- If you have a prior history of convictions
Finding a Lawyer to Defend Your Case
A simple assault charge must be taken seriously, as it can negatively affect many aspects of your life. It is of utmost importance that you consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you understand the intricacies of the charges brought against you and direct the preparation of a strong defense strategy.
The Rosenberg | Perry & Associates team is dedicated to providing compassionate, aggressive legal services to help you navigate assault charges and other legal issues. If you’re looking for an experienced criminal defense for a simple assault charge in New Jersey, contact Rosenberg | Perry & Associates today for a free consultation.