Assault-based offenses in New Jersey charged under NJSA 2C:12-1 fall under two basic categories. These are “simple” and “aggravated” assault. The biggest difference between these two categories relates to the potential penalties the charge can carry.
Simple Assault in New Jersey
Attempting to cause, or purposefully, knowingly or recklessly causing injury to another is a simple assault. You can also be found guilty for negligently causing injury to another with a deadly weapon. The third way you can be found guilty of a simple assault is by attempting by what is called “physical menace” to put an individual in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Simple assault is graded as a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to six months jail and a $1,000 fine. However, simple assault can be treated as a petty disorderly offense if it is the result of a mutual fight. Conduct which would normally be considered a simple assault can be charged as a aggravated assault in certain situations. These include if the conduct was committed against certain classes of individuals including law enforcement officers, judges, firemen, teachers, DYFS workers, rail passengers and bus drivers, and utility workers. The same also applies if a simple assault was committed against anyone, while in the presence of a child at certain sporting events.
Degrees of Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault can be a second, third, or fourth degree offense depending on the circumstances. The most significant circumstance that is taken into account is whether the victim suffered serious bodily injury. If serious bodily injury is caused knowingly, purposely, or recklessly (in some cases), it is a second degree offense. A second-degree conviction carries 5-10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine. If only “significant” injury occurs, the crime is in the third-degree. Causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon is a third-degree offense if committed knowingly or purposefully or under certain other circumstances, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine, else it is a fourth-degree offense. Fourth-degree offenses are punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Pointing a firearm at another can also be a fourth-degree offense, unless that person is a police officer, in which case it is a third-degree offense.
If you are charged with causing bodily injury to an individual while running from or eluding a police officer, that is a second degree offense. Causing injury to an emergency worker by a fire or explosion is a third-degree offense, serious bodily injury will result in second-degree exposure.
If you drive your vehicle recklessly and cause injury to another, that can be charged as assault by auto. If injury results, this is a disorderly persons offense, while serious injury will escalate the charge to a fourth-degree. Talking on a cell phone or driving aggressively and causing such an injury can give rise to this charge and even escalate it to a third-degree offense. Being intoxicated at the time of the accident can raise this offense to a third or fourth degree offense depending on the extent of the injuries. The event taking place in a school zone can raise this to a second-degree offense.
A New Jersey Assault Charges Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with assault in New Jersey you may not know where to turn. Anthony J. Vecchio has defended those charged with crimes in Freehold, Mt. Laurel, Woodbridge, Red Bank, Princeton, Jersey City and across the state for years and is ready to represent you. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.