Atlantic County is located in southern New Jersey and is home to some of the best beaches in all of New Jersey. The county is composed of twenty-three separate municipalities ranging from farming communities to the famous Atlantic City Casinos. However, despite all the wonderful places to go and things to do in New Jersey, people are arrested in New Jersey everyday. New Jersey reported over 11,000 assault cases last year. In fact, assault is one of the most frequently charged offenses throughout the state.
If you have been charged with either simple or aggravated assault you should be consider hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you are charged and convicted of aggravated assault you may face a fine of up to $150,000 and possibly 5 to 10 years in jail.
What Is a Simple Assault Charge?
The New Jersey legislature has delineated two forms of assault under NJSA 2C:12-1, simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is the least serious form of assault a person can be charged with and is generally considered a disorderly persons offense rather than a criminal offense. A person commits a simple assault if he attempts, by physical menace, to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
In order for you to find the defendant committed a simple assault, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt:
That the defendant purposely attempted to put the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
That the defendant did so by physical menace.
The state has to prove each of these elements. Under the statutory language, serious bodily injury means bodily injury, which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss of impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. The state must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the person accused attempted to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by physical menace. Physical menace is accomplished through an act or acts, which are physically threatening acts. In this case, words are not sufficient to constitute physical menace.
What Are the Penalties for Simple Assault?
As stated above, simple assault is categorized as a disorderly persons offense, unless the injury occurred as a result of a consensual fight or scuffle, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense. A defendant convicted of simple assault can be fined, ordered to make restitution or both. The fine cannot exceed $1,000 in the case of a conviction for a disorderly persons offense, or $500 for a petty disorderly persons conviction. A judge can, however, order a higher fine not to exceed double the amount of loss suffered by the victim. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:12-1, 2C:43-3.)
What Is an Aggravated Assault Charge?
Aggravated assault is a more serious charge in New Jersey and includes: Attempt to cause a serious bodily injury or actually cause such an injury, purposely or knowingly or recklessly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life (second degree crime) A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he . . . (a)ttempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury.
To find the defendant(s) guilty of aggravated assault for causing serious bodily injury to another, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:
That the defendant(s) caused serious bodily injury to another; and
That the defendant(s) acted purposely or knowingly or acted recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
In addition, a person can be charged and convicted of aggravated assault if a person:
Either attempt to cause or purposely or knowingly cause a bodily injury by using a deadly weapon
Recklessly cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon
Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, point a firearm at or in the direction of another person
Cause bodily injury while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer or unlawfully operating a motor vehicle
Either attempt to cause significant bodily injury or actually cause such injury, purposely or knowingly or recklessly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life
Cause bodily injury to any emergency services personnel who are either responding to or helping put out a fire that occurred because a defendant knowingly or purposely started a fire or caused an explosion
Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, point or display a firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer
Knowingly point, display or use an imitation firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, or attempting to put the officer in fear of bodily injury or for any other unlawful purpose
Use or activate a laser sighting system or device (or an object that a reasonable person would believe is a laser sight) against a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority
Purposely drive a vehicle in an aggressive manner at another vehicle and bodily injury results. “Driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner” includes, but is not limited to, “unexpectedly altering the speed of the vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way, or following another vehicle too closely”
Despite being a more serious charge, aggravated assault encompasses a greater amount of conduct and with it, higher fines and potentially longer prison terms.
What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault?
Penalties in New Jersey can range from small fines to lengthy prison sentences, and the judge is given considerable room to prescribe a punishment. In New Jersey, the penalties for aggravated assault depend upon which type of aggravated assault that a defendant is charged with. This is because, as noted above, aggravated assault can be charged as different level crimes. Aggravated assault ranges from a lower level crime of the fourth degree to a higher-level crime of the second degree. A defendant convicted of aggravated assault can be sentenced to a prison term or probation (or both), as well as fined and ordered to make restitution.
Second-degree crime – A defendant convicted of a second degree crime can be sentenced to a prison term of between five to ten years, fined up to $150,000, or both. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:12-1, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-3.)
Third-degree crime – Conviction of a third-degree crime carries a potential prison sentence of three to five years, a fine up to $15,000, or both. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:12-1, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-3.)
Fourth degree crime – Conviction of a fourth-degree crime carries a potential prison sentence up to 18 months, a fine up to $10,000, or both. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:12-1, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-3.)
Atlantic County Assault Defense Attorneys Will Fight for You
As you can see, if you are charged and convicted of either simple assault or aggravated assault, you could potentially face very steep fines and a lengthy prison sentence. While these charges are serious, there are legal defenses that you may be able to employ to have the charges lessened or dropped altogether. f you or someone you know is in need of assault defense, contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer about your case by calling (609) 616-4956 or contact us online. Lawyers are available to discuss your concerns seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays.