Assault with a deadly weapon is one of the most serious violent crimes in New Jersey. In many cases where attempted murder could be charged, aggravated assault might be used in addition to those charges, or instead of those charges. The penalties for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon can include up to a decade in prison and fines totaling up to $150,000.
If you or a loved one was accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City lawyers for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon represent the accused and fight to get charges dropped and reduced and work to keep our clients out of jail for serious offenses. For a free legal consultation on your charges, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
The Definition of “Aggravated Assault” in New Jersey
The laws of New Jersey typically work to define crimes very specifically. This often means that the Code of Criminal Justice is very dense and complex, with different subsections of a crime covering the same offense but with minor details changed. Aggravated assault is no different: there are 11 different subsections for the aggravated assault statute.
The definition of aggravated assault varies depending on which subsection you are charged with. However, aggravated assault generally covers a few main types of assault, with other subsections referring to more specific issues or detailed differences in the other types of aggravated assault. Those main types of aggravated assault are as follows:
- Attempting to cause “serious bodily injury”
- Recklessly causing injury “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”
- Causing injury (intentionally or recklessly) with a deadly weapon
- Pointing a firearm at someone with “indifference to the value of human life”
- Committing a simple assault against certain protected classes
In most cases, charges for aggravated assault, as opposed to “simple assault,” come from the “serious bodily injury” element. For injuries to be “serious bodily injuries,” there must be a “substantial risk of death” or permanent injury, disfigurement, or permanent loss of function in a part of the body.
Definition of “Deadly Weapon” for Aggravated Assault Charges
For any aggravated assault charges dealing with accusations of a weapon, the weapon needs to qualify as a “deadly weapon” for the charges to stick. New Jersey law defines a deadly weapon under N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-1.
The primary feature that makes a weapon a “deadly weapon” is that the weapon is “capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.” Something like a gun or a sword is usually designed to kill, so these items are clearly deadly weapons. Similarly, other common items could be considered capable of killing when used as weapons, such as a knife, a baseball bat, or a hammer. Many of these “deadly weapons” are household objects, but it is the manner in which it is used that defines it as a deadly weapon, not the intended use.
Other things can be considered weapons, too, even though they can’t be swung or fired or wielded. The definition of “deadly weapon” specifically includes “animate or inanimate” items, so something like a dog could actually be considered a weapon. Intentionally siccing a trained dog on a person could be considered “using” a deadly weapon for purposes of aggravated assault charges. A car or other vehicle could also be considered a weapon if you intentionally hit someone with it.
Using a weapon to injure someone without attacking them or swinging the weapon can also be considered aggravated assault. For instance, poison or acid are often considered deadly weapons, but they are not necessarily used with any force.
Some deadly weapons are not as deadly when used in a different way. For instance, “pistol-whipping” someone with a handgun or swinging a shotgun like a baseball bat would be “using” a deadly weapon, but it would not be as deadly as shooting the victim. If the gun could still cause serious bodily injury when used as a blunt instrument, it is still potentially a deadly weapon.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in NJ
Charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon are extremely serious. In most cases of assault using a deadly weapon, the crime is at least a third degree crime. These crimes are punished in New Jersey by 3-5 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000. In cases involving reckless injury with a deadly weapon, the crime is a fourth degree crime. This is punished by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
For these offenses, the injuries the victim caused must not rise to the definition of “serious bodily injury.” In any case where the assailant attempts to cause “serious bodily injury” – whether or not they use a weapon – the crime is a second degree crime. This is punished by 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000. Shooting to kill or repeatedly striking with a weapon would likely rise to this level and lead to charges of a second degree crime.
Call Our NJ Assault with a Weapon Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, contact our attorneys today. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City lawyers for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon may be able to take your case and fight to get charges dropped, dismissed, and reduced based on the facts and evidence available in your case. For a free legal consultation, call our lawyers today at (609) 616-4956.