NJ Lawyer for Aggravated Assault of a Police Officer Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)
Assault is one of the most common violent crimes. There is a wide range of attacks or injuries that could qualify as “assault” under New Jersey law, and “aggravated assault” typically applies only to more severe offenses. However, if you assault a police officer, you may be charged with “aggravated assault,” automatically increasing the potential penalties you could face at sentencing.
If you or a loved one was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer under N.J.S.A. § 2C:12(b), call our New Jersey lawyer for aggravated assault on a police officer today. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent the accused and fight to get charges dropped and dismissed, even for serious violent crimes like assaulting a police officer. For your free legal consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.
Definition of Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
Under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, aggravated assault typically requires the use of a weapon or the intent to cause severe, permanent injuries. If the assault does not cause serious injuries that leave permanent scarring or disabilities, the crime should typically be charged as “simple assault” instead, resulting in lower penalties. However, when an assault is committed under certain circumstances or assault is committed against a police officer, the crime is automatically upgraded to aggravated assault.
Police officers are a “protected class” under NJ assault laws. This means that – alongside EMTs, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and public employees – any simple assault committed against a police officer is automatically upgraded to aggravated assault. These charges typically come under N.J.S.A § 2C:12-1(b)(5)(a). For these charges to apply, the victim must be an active-duty police officer; if you happen to get into a fight with an off-duty cop, these upgraded charges should not apply.
Other cases of assault or violence involving a police officer can also be charged as aggravated assault under other subsections of the assault statute:
- If you cause injury to anyone while fleeing or eluding a police officer, it is upgraded to aggravated assault
- If you commit arson or use explosives that injure emergency responders sent to stop the fire, that can also be aggravated assault
- Pointing a firearm at a police officer is aggravated assault, even if the firearm is fake or a prop
- Pointing a laser sight at a police officer, even if it isn’t attached to a gun, can be aggravated assault
In addition to these forms of aggravated assault specifically involving police officers, you can also be charged with aggravated assault as the base offense rather than upgrading a simple assault crime. This can occur if you cause serious, permanent injuries or use a weapon against a victim. This would be charged as aggravated assault whether the victim is a police officer or not.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer in NJ
Assaulting a cop or other law enforcement officer typically carries harsh penalties. First and foremost, before you are even tried and convicted, other police officers may treat you harshly or illegally mistreat you because of an assault on a police officer. It is vital that you talk to an attorney to get help protecting you from retribution while you are in custody or during pretrial detention.
If simple assault is upgraded to aggravated assault because the victim was a police officer, the crime is charged at different levels depending on how severe the injuries were. If the assault was really a simple assault and the law enforcement officer suffered mild to moderate “bodily injuries,” the crime is a third degree crime. If there were no injuries, the crime is a fourth degree crime. If the assault was a true aggravated assault and the victim suffered serious or permanent injuries, the crime will be charged as a normal aggravated assault and it will be a second degree crime, regardless of whether the victim was a cop or not.
If you cause injuries while eluding police, the crime is a second degree crime – one of the most severe levels of crime. Injuries caused to first responders during a fire or explosion you caused are also charged as a second degree crime if the fire or explosion causes severe or permanent injuries to the victims. If the injuries are less than severe, it is a third degree crime.
Aggravated assault for pointing a gun, an imitation gun, or a laser sight at a police officer are all charged as third degree crimes.
Each level of crime has different standard punishment ranges in New Jersey. A judge has the final say as to where within this range your sentence will ultimately fall, giving your defense attorney a chance to argue for a reduced sentence. Additionally, getting the case charged under a different subsection by recharacterizing the level of injury or the circumstances of the assault might also get you a reduced sentence. The levels of crime mentioned above typically receive the following sentences in New Jersey:
- Second degree crimes carry 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
- Third degree crimes carry 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Fourth degree crimes carry up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Call Our NJ Attorneys for Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer
If you or a loved one was charged with aggravated assault for striking or otherwise injuring a police officer in New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys for aggravated assault on a police officer in New Jersey can help fight your case by negotiating the charges and reducing sentences, as well as fighting the case at trial to try to get charges dropped and dismissed. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.