Have you been arrested for an assault in New Jersey?
When faced with assault charges, it is important seek the aid of a defense attorney to help you fight to keep your record clean before you are convicted. An assault charge is not something to brush off lightly. It carries a negative and harsh stigma that will follow you throughout your lifetime.
N.J.S. 2C:12-1 defines how an individual in New Jersey can be found guilty of an assault in over 20 ways. In general, the statute defines assault into two main categories: 1) Simple Assault, 2) Aggravated Assault.
N.J.S. 2C:12-1a provides the elements necessary to find a person guilty of a simple assault in three different scenarios
- When one attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
- When one negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- When one attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
In the event when it involves a case of a mutual fight, the simple assault is considered a petty disorderly persons offense, which renders a statutory maximum of 30 days in jail.
A simple assault charge is of a lesser offense than a charge of aggravated assault. A simple assault carries the grade level of a disorderly persons offense, which is a misdemeanor. Do not be fooled! This offense, although a misdemeanor, carries jail time of up to 6 months.
A simple assault conviction brings a tarnished record and exposure to the harsh stigmas that convictions carry. Current employers, potential employers, and potential landlords can access criminal records and discover a simple assault conviction. A key point to remember about an assault charge is that it is in the category of violent crimes. Those convicted of violent crimes cannot obtain fire arm permits. If non-citizens of the United States, their immigration status may be jeopardized, and they may be deported.
An aggravated assault charge is substantially more serious than a simple assault charge and carries a far harsher statutory penalty. N.J.S. 2C:12-1b states that an individual can be found guilty of aggravated assault in 1 of 5 ways if he
- Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or
- Causes such injury either purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, causes such injury; or
- Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Either purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, points a firearm at or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded.
It is important to note that when facing an aggravated assault charge, the phrase “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” does not capture the mindset of the actor. Rather, it captures the mindset of the victim at the time of the assault. Essentially, a charge of aggravated assault is not based solely on the result of the assault itself; more important is the perception of the victim.
Aggravated assault carries a harsher penalty than a simple assault and is a state indictable crime. An individual can be charged with 4th degree, 3rd degree, or 2nd degree aggravated assault. The statutory maximum fines and prison time varies vastly from each magnitude of degree. An aggravated assault in the 4th degree, for example, carries a statutory maximum incarceration of 18 months in state prison and a statutory maximum fine of $10,000.
Those charged with assault of any type should immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss protecting their rights and keeping their records clean.
Ref: N.J.S. §2C:12-1