Assault charges in New Jersey depend upon the level of violence committed upon a victim, the intent of the offender, and the status of the person assaulted. The categories of assault include:
Pursuant to Section 2C:12-1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, simple assault is committed if a person purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury; negligently causes bodily injury by use of a dangerous weapon; or attempts by physical menace to put a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. You can be charged and convicted of simple assault by merely threatening to cause serious injury and the victim is reasonably certain the threat is real and imminent.
Domestic assault can be a simple assault charge. In New Jersey, the suspect is subject to arrest if a call is placed to 911 and a single mark of injury is found on the victim. It can be upgraded to aggravated assault if more serious injuries are found or a weapon is involved. Simple assault is typically considered a disorderly person’s offense, especially if there are minor injuries.
If simple assault is committed during the course of a fight entered into by mutual consent, it is usually charged as a petty disorderly persons offense and the penalty can be up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Otherwise, it carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
If a public official like a police officer is assaulted under this category, the charge can be upgraded to a fourth degree crime, carrying up to 18 months in prison, or even a third degree crime that can result in three to five years in prison.
For an aggravated assault, the offender must have attempted to cause serious or significant physical injury, caused temporary or permanent injury or used a deadly weapon or instrument, like a gun or motor vehicle. An assault on a police officer, fireman, emergency first-aid, teacher, employee of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services or a judge is an aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault can be either a second, third or fourth degree crime in New Jersey and in some circumstances can subject the offender to 10 years in state prison.
Assault by Auto
Assault by auto in New Jersey can be charged as either a disorderly person’s offense, or as a fourth, third or second degree crime.
A driver who was reckless and caused only minor injuries could be charged with a disorderly person’s offense and face no more than six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. If the driver drove recklessly while intoxicated and caused only minor injuries, the offender is subject to a DWI/DUI assault by auto charge, which is a fourth degree crime and carries penalties of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. If the driver caused bodily injury in a school zone, the charges is upgraded to a third degree crime, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in jail and a fine up to $150,000.
A driver who was reckless and caused serious bodily injury can be charged with a fourth degree crime, which has a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and a fine of $10,000. If the driver drove recklessly while intoxicated and caused serious bodily injury, the offender is subject to a DWI/DUI assault by auto charge, which is a third degree crime and carries penalties of up to 5 years in state prison and a fine up to $150,000. If the driver caused serious bodily injury in a school zone, the charge is upgraded to a second degree crime, which carries a presumption of imprisonment and a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine up to $200,000.
Anyone facing an assault charge should immediately ask to speak to a criminal defense lawyer, and refuse to give any kind of oral, written or taped statement, regardless of what a law enforcement officer promises. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can explore your legal options, examine the facts and evidence, present reasonable and viable defenses, and offer mitigating factors that can lead to dismissal of the charges or reduction of the offense, which may only involve probation or no jail time. Do not delay!