The Difference Between Assault and Battery in Atlantic City

The terms “assault” and “battery” have a particular historical meaning. This is usually complicated by common misunderstandings and differing terminology. In New Jersey, “assault” can refer to the crime of assault, which has multiple levels and various punishments. If you have been charged with assault in New Jersey, it is vital that you talk to a criminal defense attorney right away.

If you or a loved one was charged with a crime in New Jersey, take your case to the Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our lawyers fight to get charged dropped or dismissed, and to get sentences reduced. We also offer free consultations on new cases.

Criminal Assault Cases in New Jersey

The crime of assault is found in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice under N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1. There are two forms of assault in New Jersey: simple assault and aggravated assault. One of the confusions with the terms “assault” and “battery” is that many states call the crime of hitting another person “battery,” but others use “assault.” New Jersey’s assault crimes cover the action of intentionally hitting another to cause them injury.

Simple Assault

Simple assault covers the following actions:

  • Knowingly or recklessly causing (or attempting to cause) bodily injury to another;
  • Negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
  • Attempting to put someone n fear of imminent bodily injury by “physical menace.”

For the first type of assault, the injuries must be “bodily injury.” This includes “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition,” under N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-1’s definition. This includes relatively basic injuries that clearly exist, but are not too severe.

The difference between the first and second types are the required mental state. For the first, it must be actual, intentional action, or you must recognize the danger and ignore it. For the second, the injury needs to be negligent, meaning that you failed to use the proper care with the deadly weapon.

For the third type, there are two necessary definitions. First, “physical menace” means the physically intimidating and threatening actions of your body. This can be an angry face, a violent stance, or punches or kicks that were not intended to actually hit. The fear of injury must be “imminent,” meaning immediately possible. Threats from the other side of a window or in a video are not “imminent.”

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Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is the more serious form of assault, which covers the following actions:

  • Intentionally causing serious bodily injury (or recklessly causing serious bodily injury “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”);
  • Intentionally causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon;
  • Recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon;
  • Pointing a firearm at someone (whether or not it is loaded);
  • Committing a simple assault against…
    • A law enforcement officer,
    • A firefighter,
    • A public transportation employee,
    • A prison/jail employee;
    • A healthcare worker, or
    • Other public employees;
  • Causing bodily injury while running from the police;
  • Causing “significant bodily injury”;
  • Causing injury by starting a fire;
  • Pointing a gun at law enforcement;
  • Pointing an imitation firearm at law enforcement;
  • Using a laser sight to make something think you are pointing a gun at them; or
  • Causing significant bodily injury to a domestic violence victim.

Many of these upgrade simple assault based on certain criteria. First, if the victim is a public employee such as a cop, a judge, a firefighter, or any healthcare worker, simple assault is upgraded. If the level of injury goes beyond “bodily injury” to “serious bodily injury” or “significant bodily injury,” the crime is upgraded. Additionally, any use of a deadly weapon or firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, whether fired or simply aimed, and whether real or imitation, is also upgraded.

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What is “Assault and Battery”?

The meaning of “assault and battery” is commonly misunderstood. These are actually what are known as “torts.” These are intentional actions that cause harm and give victims the ability to file a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. Just because your case went through the criminal system does not stop them from suing you in civil court, as well. Our lawyers defend against criminal charges, but not civil assault and battery cases. However, it is vital to get an attorney on your criminal case because a conviction could hurt your finances in a later civil case.

“Battery,” in this context, is the tort of hitting someone else. Typically, this tort requires that someone intentionally hit another, with the intent to cause them injury. Unlike the crime of assault, this does not include attempts to hit. “Assault” in the civil context is the act of placing someone in fear of being hit. Usually, this is very close to the assault by physical menace, covered above. It would also cover an attempt to hit.

Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you were charged with the crime of assault, or you were in a fight and think you may be charged, talk to an attorney. There are many lesser crimes that cover the same sort of conduct that might be more appropriate in your case. Our attorneys might be able to argue for reduced charges or for the charges to be dropped altogether. Call the Atlantic City assault defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. For a free, confidential consultation on your case, call (609) 616-4956.

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