NEW JERSEY ASSAULT LAW
If you have been arrested and charged with the crime of assault, take the correct steps to protect your rights and contact a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who handles assault charges on a regular basis. If you are facing simple assault charges in the municipal court, or aggravated assault charges in the superior court, it is vital to your defense that you hire a New Jersey lawyer who has experience in that particular venue. Assault charges can arise from a number of circumstances, including domestic violence, fights, verbal arguments, etc. If convicted, you may be facing significant jail time, a heavy fine, and a criminal record. Contact our office today for a free consultation and case assessment.
The sections that follow summarize the law as it pertains to simple and aggravated assault offenses. The law is complex. A simple assault can easily elevate to an aggravated assault charge under many circumstances. It is imperative that you speak with an assault attorney who can answer all your questions and formulate a solid defense to the charges you face.
Simple Assault: N.J.S.A 2C: 12-1(a)
A person commits the crime of simple assault if he attempts to cause, or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another. A simple assault charge may be charged if a person negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. Finally, a simple assault can be charged if a person attempts, by physical menace, to put another in fear of imminent bodily injury. A mutual fight or scuffle, where proportional force is used, may result in both combatants being charged with simple assault.
What does this all mean? First, you can be charged with simple assault by simply threatening an individual with serious bodily harm. You don’t have to touch someone to be charged. However, the threats that are made must be physical in nature, and the the accuser must reasonably believe that the threat is imminent, and that you are serious about your threat. The bodily harm threatened also must be serious bodily harm. The mental component in these types of assault cases typically leaves the door open for many viable defenses that may lead to a not guilty plea.
Secondly, a simple assault can be charged if one attempts to purposely inflict bodily injury, or knowingly/ recklessly inflicts bodily injury. You may have noticed that this section does not use the term serious bodily injury. For example, a slap to the face would suffice, or swinging at bat at someone and missing. Nonetheless, self defense is always a defense if applicable, and the nature of the altercation must be reviewed by an New Jersey assault defense lawyer to determine if the necessary mental state was present for the state to makes its case.
One of the more frequent types of simple assault charges we see involve domestic relationships. Often, a person charged with simple assault under the domestic violence provisions maybe facing a restraining order in the family court. These are two different matters entirely and each has its own serious consequences. If you have been served with a restraining order, it is imperative that you contact a domestic violence lawyer who handles this type of matter regularly.
Aggravated Assault: N.J.S.A. 2C 12-1(b-f)
In many instances, a simple assault can be charged as an aggravated assault simple based upon the setting and the people involved. Aggravated assault ranges from a 4th degree offense up to a 2nd degree offense and frequently depend on the occupation of the victim. Additionally, in order to convict, the state must prove the mental component of the offense. More importantly, some of the charges in this section can expose the defendant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), which applies to many crimes of violence. Under this Act. A person convicted of a qualifying offense must serve 85% of the sentence imposed before becoming parole eligible. The sections that follow will clarify this complex and diverse law.
Second degree aggravated assault may be charged if an individual attempts to cause or causes serious bodily injury to another. The person must act knowingly or recklessly. Recklessly means an extreme indifference for human life. Note the difference between 2nd degree assault and simple assault. The actor must attempt or actually inflict serious bodily injury. Thus, a slap to the face will not be charged as a 2nd degree. Something more serious is required. Assault under this sub section may be charged as a third degree crime if the actor attempts to inflict or inflicts significant bodily injury. Significant falls somewhere in between regular bodily injury and serious.
As you can see, there are many times when an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to poke holes in the state’s theory of the case during and prior to trial. The statute differentiates between many types of behavior. Todd Palumbo will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your particular offense to determine if you have been charged incorrectly
Bodily Injury Cause By Deadly Weapon: Third or Fourth Degree
Once again, the degree of offense charged under this subsection will most likely depend on the mental state of the actor, and the harm inflicted. The occupation of the alleged victim will also come into play.
A person who knowingly causes bodily injury (not serious bodily injury) with a deadly weapon if guilty of a third degree crime. However, if the harm inflicted was done so recklessly, then a person is guilty of a fourth degree crime. Take note of the differences. Only bodily injury, not serious injury is required. Additionally, the state will have to prove that you either acted knowingly or recklessly.
Pointing a Firearm at Law Enforcement
This includes imitation firearms. The offense is elevated to third degree when a law enforcement is involved.
Simple Assault on Law Enforcement or Public Official: Third Degree
A simple assault on the above individuals will be charged as a aggravated third degree crime. However, this provision does not apply if the assault happens while the official is off duty and the defendant did not engage the victim because of their occupation.
Bodily Injury Caused While Eluding an Officer: Second Degree
If you inflict serious bodily injury to another while fleeing law enforcement, you will be charged with a second degree crime. It does not matter if it was an accident. The state must prove however, that you eluded the officer knowingly. Thus, if you did not know that you were being apprehended, you will have a defense to this charge
It is important to realize that many of the offenses outlined in this article expose the defendant to NERA. This is a provision in the law that allows the sentencing judge to impose a period of parole ineligibility for certain violent offenses. In my experience, the state will look to utilize NERA whenever possible. A good criminal defense lawyer will work the case prior to indictment, to decrease your exposure at trial, or negotiate with the prosecutor to get you your best deal prior to trial. This is accomplished by creating genuine trial proof problems for the prosecutor, knowing that the defense may have some trial issues as well.
Other Assault Crimes
This article does not cover any and all assault provisions. As stated the law is long and complex and can not be summarized quickly. There are other sections of the statute not addressed such as sporting event assault offenses a
If you have been charged with simple or aggravated assualt, call the Law Office of Todd Palumbo today for your free consultation. Attorney Todd Palumbo gives each and every case the time and dedication it deserves and is always available to speak with his clients.Servicing all of Essex, Hudson, Bergen, Morris and Union County, including Newark, Millburn, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City, West Orange, Bloomfield, Montclair, Ridgefield, Fort Lee, Irvington, the Oranges, Caldwell, Maplewood, Cranford, Fairfield, etc.