The charges for the crime of assault can occur through a variety of acts and circumstances. However, in general, the common law crime of assault occurs when a person injures or attempts to injure another person without a valid legal justification. Under New Jersey state law assault is defined at two different levels reflecting different levels of culpability, circumstances, and punishment. At the lower level is simple assault and at the higher level is aggravated assault. While both acts are crimes, aggravated assault can be punished significantly more severely.
The experienced criminal defense lawyers of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych have more than 45 years of legal experience handling criminal and misdemeanor charges. We offer free criminal defense consultations from our Cape May, Atlantic City, Wildwood, and Atlantic County offices. We serve towns including Margate, Longport, Galloway, Egg Harbor Township, Mount Holly, Toms River, Absecon and beyond.
What Constitutes Simple Assault in Cape May?
Simple assault is defined in NJSA § 2C:12-1. Under the statute those who injure or attempt to injure another can be charge d with the crime of simple assault. However there are three main scenarios where these circumstances can typically be met. First, the individual may attempt to or actually cause injury with some form of intent to cause harm. The person can act purposefully, meaning that they intended to bring about the result; knowingly, meaning they knew or should have known that injury was a probable result of their action; or recklessly when there is a “conscious disregard” of a substantial risk without justification. Other scenarios where a simple assault charge may be appropriate includes an injury negligently inflicted with a dangerous weapon and placing another in fear of imminent injury to the body.
In most cases simple assault crimes in Cape May are classified as disorderly persons offenses. Disorderly persons offenses are a lower-level crime that can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000, restitution, or both. If the simple assault charge is due to a consensual altercation or fight, then it is considered a petty disorderly persons offense. However in certain circumstances simple assault can be charged as a fourth degree crime which can result in the imposition of an eighteen month prison sentence. These circumstances include when the injury is inflicted by the employee of a care facility against an institutionalized senior citizen or when in the presence of a child under age 16 at a community or school-sponsored youth sporting event.
What is Considered Aggravated Assault in Cape May?
Like with simple assault, aggravated assault can occur under a myriad of circumstances. However, also like simple assault, for aggravated assault to be charged the accused must have intended to bring about harm or injury, have acted with extreme indifference to human life, or a deadly weapon was involved. Circumstances where aggravated assault charges would likely be appropriate include:
- Recklessly shooting off a gun where the bullet accidentally strikes an observer or passerby. In these circumstances aggravated assault would likely be considered a fourth degree crime.
- If the defendant causes an injury while fleeing from law enforcement, the individual can be charged with a second degree crime.
- The individual knowingly pointed or brandished a real or imitation firearm at a law enforcement officer.
- A driver who drives aggressively while targeting another person or vehicle may be charged with a third or fourth degree crime depending on the severity of injuries inflicted.
- When an individual commits simple assault against certain protected individuals in the state. These protected individuals can include firemen, police officers & law enforcement officials, justices of the courts, department of corrections employees, certain health care workers, and others.
- Individuals who purposefully cause a law enforcement official to come in contact with a bodily fluid can be charged with fourth degree aggravated assault.
While aggravated assault charges can arise in many more circumstances, the penalties you face are always based on the degree of crime charged. For a second degree charge, you can face a prison sentence of five to ten years and fines of up to $150,000. A third degree charge can result in a three to five year prison sentence and significant monetary fines. A fourth degree charge can, upon conviction, be punished by up to 18 month in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Cape May Assault Defense Lawyers Fight for You
If you have been charged with either simple or aggravated assault, you probably already recognize that you face serious criminal legal consequences. When you decide to work with a Cape May criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of John J. Zarych you can rest assured that you matter will be handled aggressively and strategically. To schedule a free criminal defense consultation at one of our South Jersey offices in Wildwood, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, or Cape May call us at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.