Assault is a serious crime, in all of its forms. In New Jersey, there are 11,414 assaults in a year, or 1.27 assaults per 1,000 residents. This is just over half the national average, but still means that thousands of people are charged with assault every year.
If you were charged with simple assault or aggravated assault in New Jersey, talk to an attorney about your case and about your potential sentencing. The assault defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those accused of assault crimes on their case, and help fight heavy sentences at the sentencing stage. For a free consultation on your case, contact our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.
Crime Grade for Assault in Atlantic City
There are two broad classes of crime in New Jersey: “disorderly persons offenses” and “indictable offenses.” Disorderly persons offenses are punished with a maximum of 6 months in jail, and are like “misdemeanors” in other states. Indictable offenses are also called “crimes,” and are like felonies in other states, each carrying the potential of over 1 year in prison.
Assault is the crime of intentionally hitting another person. There are two forms of assault:
- Simple assault, where there is no weapon used and the victim suffers some moderate bodily harm; and
- Aggravated assault, where a weapon is used or the victim suffers serious bodily injury or the victim is a government, school, or healthcare worker.
Simple Assault Sentencing
Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense. This means that the crime is generally punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the actor and the victim were involved in a fight they mutually entered, such as a disagreement that became violent, the crime is reduced to a “petty” disorderly persons offense. This is still punished with up to 6 months in jail, but the fine is reduced to a maximum of $500.
Aggravated Assault Sentencing
Aggravated assault has a more complicated sentencing structure. The following details set an aggravated assault at the following crime levels listed below:
- The assault is a second degree crime if:
- There is “serious bodily injury” or injury occurred under “circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”; or
- The actor was fleeing or eluding police when they harm another.
- The assault is a fourth degree crime if:
- The actor recklessly (as opposed to intentionally) causes “bodily injury” (a lesser injury than “serious bodily injury”) with a deadly weapon;
- Simply points a firearm, whether it is loaded or not, at another person;
- It would otherwise be a simple assault, but it was committed against a government worker, emergency responder, healthcare worker, or school employee; or
- The driver of a car causes serious bodily injury
- All other aggravated assaults are third degree crimes.
The only exception is assault by auto where the victim only suffers “bodily injury,” as opposed to “serious bodily injury.” This is a disorderly persons offense instead of a fourth degree crime for more serious injuries involving a car.
Second degree crimes are punished with 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
Third degree crimes are punished with 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
Fourth degree crimes are punished with up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Sentencing Guidelines and Rules for New Jersey
In New Jersey, most statutes have a minimum and maximum sentence for their level of crime. For instance, a third degree crime (which covers most aggravated assaults) has a sentence of 3-5 years. When you are being charged with this crime, it is difficult to tell if you will face 3 years, 5 years, or something in between. Judges have the authority to modify your sentence to fit somewhere in this range.
The manual that prosecutors use for sentencing in NJ lists the “purposes” of sentencing. These factors give us a great idea of what judges look for when determining your specific sentence, including:
- Preventing crime,
- Promoting rehabilitation of offenders,
- Protecting public safety,
- Stopping overly harsh punishments,
- Giving offenders fair warning of the penalties,
- Individualizing punishment for each offender,
- Advancing the use of science and research in sentencing, and
- Promoting restitution (monetary repayment) for victims.
These rules give judges guidelines for when a sentence should be increased or decreased within the range. Judges may also drop a sentence below the statutory minimum if “mitigating” factors are present. This gives attorneys room to argue your sentence should be reduced or that you should be given probation instead of being locked up in prison.
Atlantic City Assault Sentencing Lawyers
If you or a loved one was charged with assault or convicted of assault in Atlantic County, including Atlantic City, Brigantine, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hammonton, Pleasantville, Somers Point, Ventnor City, or anywhere in South Jersey, call our attorneys today. The assault defense lawyers and sentencing attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to represent you on your case or at your sentencing hearing. For your free consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.