South Jersey Assault Defense Attorney
In the State of New Jersey, the crime of hitting someone else is called “assault.” Other states might have different names for this crime, such as “battery,” but the general conduct is the same.
If you have been charged with any type of assault in South Jersey, you might be worried about what happens next. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can not only help you stay out of jail while you await trial, but can help you try to get the case resolved without jail time. This guide is intended to help you understand the different crimes that are called “assault.”
What is Considered “Assault” in New Jersey?
N.J.S.A § 2C:12-1 is where the definition of “assault” can be found in New Jersey’s laws. Subsection a. of this statute defines “simple assault” as any of these three situations:
- Causing, either purposely, knowingly, or recklessly – or attempting to cause – the “bodily injury” of another.
- Negligently causing “bodily injury” to another with a deadly weapon.
- Attempting by “physical menace” to put someone else in fear that you will cause “serious bodily injury.”
Here are some quick examples of each of these, to give you an idea of what simple assault looks like:
- Punching someone in the face and knocking out a tooth. Alternatively, throwing a punch, but missing, may also count.
- Playing with a knife that slips from your hand and cuts someone.
- Yelling in someone’s face while placing your hands near their throat, even if you do not choke them.
“Simple assault” generally covers most cases where someone hits another person to injure them, but also covers attempt to hit and the imminent threat of hitting.
Subsection b. of the statute defines “aggravated assault.” Most times, when a crime has “aggravated” in its name, it is the same as the “simple” crime, but includes some extra or alternative element that makes the crime more dangerous. “Aggravated assault” includes any of the following situations:
- Causing, either purposely, knowingly, or recklessly – or attempting to cause – the “serious bodily injury” of another. If it was done recklessly, it must also be done “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
- Attempt or intentional “bodily injury” to another, with a deadly weapon
- Reckless “bodily injury” to another with a deadly weapon
- Recklessly pointing a gun at someone, whether you think it is loaded or not, “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
- A simple assault is upgraded to aggravated assault if the victim is:
- a law enforcement agent (e.g. police officer),
- a firefighter (paid or volunteer),
- any other emergency responder (e.g. EMT),
- a school board member,
- a Child Protection employee,
- a judge,
- a bus driver or rail operator,
- a prison guard,
- a utility worker (cable, power, water, gas, etc.),
- a healthcare worker (doctor, nurse, etc.), or
- a State psychiatric hospital worker.
- Causing injury to another while fleeing from police or in a stolen car
- When it’s a simple assault, but there is “significant bodily injury” instead.
- When firefighters or other responders are injured in a fire you started.
- When you point a gun at police “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
- Pointing a fake gun at police with the intent to scare them into thinking it is real.
- Pointing a weapon’s laser sight (like the red laser dots in movies) at police.
- Causing or attempting to cause “significant bodily injury” to a victim of domestic violence, “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
There are also separate crimes for when an assault occurs by the use of a car (including trucks, SUVs, etc) or vessel (including boats, jet skis, etc.). Assault crimes are also made worse if they occur at a sporting event for children under sixteen years old.
In these definitions, there are a few phrases that keep popping up. Here are some explanations of those phrases:
- “Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” means that the conduct is done in a way that shows the actor does not care if someone were to die from what he does. Things like firing a gun randomly into a crowd or beating/choking someone unconscious, then continuing to beat/choke them after they have gone limp, may count. Something must be truly careless and violent to fit this definition.
- “Bodily injury” means physical pain.
- “Serious bodily injury” requires that there is a pretty high risk of death involved, or risk of permanent injury.
- “Significant bodily injury” is injury that is severe enough to stop body function, such as knocking someone unconscious or cutting off a body part.
- “Physical menace” is physical intimidation.
Contact an Experienced South Jersey Assault Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, assault by auto, or assault by vessel in South Jersey, and need an experienced criminal defense firm that will fight to get charges dropped and keep you out of jail, hire the Law Offices of John Zarych. For a free consultation, call (609) 616-4956.