How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge

Have you been charged with a simple assault in New Jersey?

When emotions heat up, simple assault can follow. Simple assault often occurs in episodes of domestic violence, when arguing with neighbors, or in instances of public intoxication. 

If you have been charged with simple assault, you know that there’s nothing simple about beating this charge. You need to understand New Jersey criminal law and develop a legal strategy to defend against a simple assault charge. An experienced simple assault NJ criminal lawyer can help with your defense strategy.

Here are a few things you should know about how to beat a simple assault charge in New Jersey:

  • What is a simple assault in New Jersey?
  • What is the punishment for simple assault in NJ?
  • What are the defenses to simple assault?

What is a Simple Assault in New Jersey?

Simple assault in NJ occurs when a person (N.J.S.A . 2C:12‑1):

  • Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;  or
  • Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;  or
  • Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

This law means that you don’t even have to touch a person to get into legal trouble. If you threaten someone or cause them to fear serious bodily injury, you can be charged with assault. 

Note that simple assault involves threatening serious bodily injury or attempting/causing bodily injury. So what’s the difference between serious bodily injury and bodily injury? The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice ( Definitions, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1) defines the two categories:

  • Bodily injury means “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition.”
  • Serious bodily injury is “bodily injury which 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.”

There’s another assault category, aggravated assault, that applies to behavior that escalates past simple assault. 

What Type of Charge is Simple Assault?

New Jersey law classifies crimes as indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses. Simple assault is usually a disorderly persons offense.

If both parties agreed to fight, the charge could be downgraded to a petty disorderly persons offense. A petty disorderly persons offense is the least serious New Jersey offense that carries a jail sentence. 

  • A disorderly persons offense penalty is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine.
  • A petty disorderly persons offense is up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. 

Even though simple assault charges do not carry lengthy jail time, they become part of your criminal record. Having a criminal record can affect housing and employment options, so it’s important to beat your simple assault charge.

What are the Defenses to Simple Assault?

A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you beat your simple assault charge. Defenses against a simple assault charge include:

  • Dismiss as de minimus assault. Your attorney may argue that your simple assault was de minimis in nature. This legal term means trivial or lacking significance. The argument asserts that the assault was so inconsequential that the court should dismiss your case.
  • Suppress the evidence. If the judge grants a motion to suppress evidence of your simple assault, this may eliminate proof that you are guilty. A judge may suppress evidence on grounds such as relevance and unfair prejudice.
  • Reduce to a lesser charge. Your attorney might request a judge reduce your simple assault to a lesser charge, such as harassment. Downgrading to a municipal ordinance violation may reduce the penalties involved with your charge.

Even if your simple assault defense attorney cannot beat your simple assault charge, your attorney can request a reduced penalty. For instance, your attorney may convince the judge to give you probation and a suspended sentence. Along with sentencing, the judge might impose a restraining order between the parties involved in the simple assault.

Get Legal Advice on Your Simple Assault Charge

A simple assault charge brings serious consequences. You could wind up in jail, pay a hefty fine, and carry a criminal record. You need expert legal advice to help you beat your simple assault charge.

To learn how to beat a simple assault charge, call New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Anthony Vecchio. Anthony has defended thousands of New Jersey clients and offers expert legal strategy for your simple assault. Call Anthony for a free consultation and start building your defense against simple assault.

Author Photo

Anthony J. Vecchio

Anthony’s entire career has been dedicated to defending those accused of crimes, DWI, serious motor vehicle violations, and the rights of victims of crimes and accidents. He has prosecuted, defended, or appealed cases ranging from municipal court matters to more serious crimes including drug offenses and murder. Anthony is passionate about providing personalized, thorough, and effective representation to individuals in crisis.

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