Aggravated assault is a relatively serious criminal charge in New Jersey. The crime involves committing, or attempting to commit, serious bodily injury against another person. Aggravated assault may also be charged for more minor assaults when the victim is a specific, protected person, like a police officer or a corrections officer. The exact charges for aggravated assault may vary depending on the nature of the offense. However, for certain lower-level aggravated assaults, prison time may be avoidable.
In general, a conviction for aggravated assault results in time behind bars. However, for charges of third-degree crimes and lower, prison time may be waived for defendants with clean criminal histories. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:44-1, courts have the discretion to impose sentences that do not include prison time if certain conditions are met. However, the fact that you have a clean criminal record does not guarantee that you will avoid prison.
If you face charges for aggravated assault but have no criminal history, call our offices for help. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can work to help you avoid prison if you are convicted. To schedule a free, private legal consultation with our team, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
Prison Time for Aggravated Assault Convictions in New Jersey without a Criminal History
Aggravated assault is a more serious charge compared to simple assault. Aggravated assault tends to involve more serious bodily harm to the victim or a victim who is protected by law. In many circumstances, aggravated assault is charged as a crime rather than a lesser disorderly persons offense. Aggravated assault is often punished with prison time. However, defendants charged with third-degree crimes and below may avoid prison time if their criminal records are clean.
The law under N.J.S.A. § 2C:44-1 establishes criteria for withholding sentences of imprisonment for certain charges. Among these criteria is the defendant’s criminal history. There are many mitigating and aggravating factors a court will consider when deciding whether to impose a prison term or not. A clean criminal history will certainly help your case, although nothing is guaranteed.
However, not all crimes are eligible for this kind of treatment. Aggravated assault that involves extreme indifference to human life or domestic violence will be met with prison time regardless of your criminal history. Additionally, the court may decide that a defendant is likely to re-offend or a threat to public safety and sentence them to a term of imprisonment despite their clean criminal history.
It is important to note that the court has broad discretion when deciding whether to impose a prison term under this law. Your case may have many positive mitigating factors that support a more lenient penalty like probation. However, if negative, aggravating factors outweigh these, you may end up behind bars. Call our Atlantic County criminal defense attorneys for help.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
While it is possible to avoid prison time and serve a term like probation, you may still end up in prison after an aggravated assault conviction. Aggravated assault charges may be as severe as second-degree crimes. They may also be as lenient as a fourth-degree crime. Aggravated assault is not typically charged as a disorderly person’s offense.
For a second-degree crime, a convicted defendant may be sentenced to a prison term of at least 5 years but no more than 10. The defendant could also face fines of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes may be met with a prison term of no less than 3 years but no more than 5 and fines of up to $15,000. A fourth-degree crime may be punished with a prison sentence no longer than 18 months and fines of no more than $10,000.
Keep in mind that aggravated assault is a somewhat broad criminal offense that can be completed in many different ways. A defendant who used a deadly weapon or a firearm as part of their aggravated assault could be subjected to enhanced or additional penalties. A deadly weapon would also be considered an aggravating factor used against you when a court decides whether or not to impose a prison term for a first-time offender.
How Your Criminal Record Affects Your Sentence for Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
Even if the court decides to impose a prison sentence in your case, your clean criminal history may still come into play. Sentencing is determined by multiple factors, including the likelihood that a defendant will re-offend, the dangerousness of the crime, and the defendant’s criminal record. While a clean criminal record may not allow you to completely avoid prison, it may help lower your sentence.
As stated above, many sentences for aggravated assault are imposed as a potential range of years. For example, a second-degree aggravated assault conviction carries a prison term of 5 to 10 years. Mitigating factors like a lack of a criminal history may influence a judge to impose a prison term of the lower end of the sentencing spectrum. A lighter sentence may mean you have an earlier opportunity for parole, and you could be out of jail faster.
Your clean criminal record may also be an advantage during plea bargain negotiations with prosecutors. A plea bargain involves entering a guilty plea but to charges that the prosecutor has reduced. A prosecutor might be more inclined to offer a favorable plea bargain to a defendant with no criminal history. Our Ocean City criminal defense lawyers can help you use your clean criminal record to your advantage.
Contact Our New Jersey Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with aggravated assault and are now facing potentially lengthy prison terms, call our legal team for help. Our New Jersey aggravated assault defense attorneys can help you avoid prison time if you have a clean criminal history. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free legal consultation.