Simple & Aggravated Assault in NJ: What’s the Difference?
In New Jersey and many other jurisdictions, criminal law categorizes assault offenses based on the severity of the injuries or accompanying circumstances of the assault. Under New Jersey law, there are two different types of assault: simple assault and aggravated assault. If you have been charged with either of these offenses, it is important to seek the advice of a lawyer right away. The criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver are here to assist you with your assault case in Ocean County, including in Brick, Jackson, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Lavallette, and Manchester. Contact our local office in Point Pleasant now at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation and keep reading to learn more about the assault charges you’ve been arrested for.
How Assault Charges are Defined under New Jersey Law
A person commits simple assault in New Jersey when they purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily harm to another person, negligently injure them with a deadly weapon, or make a physical threat to attempt to put a person in fear of imminent serious injury. Bodily harm means causing another person physical pain, sickness, or any harm to their physical condition.
Aggravated assault is a more serious offense than simple assault and it is charged when an assault is committed under certain conditions and circumstances. You may be charged with aggravated assault if you assault a teacher, judge, police officer, fire fighter, security guard, or a public official; you assault a family member and seriously injure them; you use a gun to threaten someone; you inflict serious or significant bodily injury on anyone; or you assault someone while resisting arrest, eluding, or attempting to elude a police officer.
Under New Jersey law, serious bodily injury is an injury that causes harm or permanent disfigurement to another person’s bodily function or creates a significant risk of death. Significant bodily injury is defined as an injury that leads to short-term loss of a bodily function, organ, or one of the five senses. If the victim is a public servant, however, you do not need to inflict almost any harm at all to be charged with aggravated assault. Even attempting to injure a law enforcement office, for example, can result in an indictable assault charge.
Charged with assault, What punishments am I facing?
Even as a disorderly persons offense, a conviction for simple assault still carries the potential for time in state prison. Specifically, if you are convicted of simple assault, the judge can sentence you to up to 6 months in prison and order you to pay fines of up to $1,000 and pay restitution to the victim. Of course, a conviction for simple assault will also generate a criminal record.
The potential penalties for aggravated assault depend on whether you are convicted of a 3rd degree indictable offense or a 4th degree indictable offense. If you are convicted of 4th degree aggravated assault, you may be ordered to serve up to 18 months in prison and pay up to $10,000 in fines. These penalties increase if you are convicted of 3rd degree aggravated assault, which carries a potential prison term of 3 to 5 years and up to $15,000 in fines.
Where will my assault case be heard?
Simple assault is generally charged as a disorderly persons offense, though it can be charged as a petty disorderly persons offense in some cases like if the fight was consensual. These offenses are usually heard in the municipal court of the town or city where you were arrested. When charged with a disorderly persons offense, you do not have a right to be indicted by a grand jury. You also do not have a right to a trial by jury. Instead, your case will be heard and decided by a municipal court judge.
However, if you are charged with other offenses arising from the same incident including an indictable offense, your disorderly persons charges and indictable offense charges will be heard together at the superior court in the county where you were arrested. This also applies if you are charged with aggravated assault, which is always an indictable crime under New Jersey law.
Arrested for Assault, Need a Lawyer Ocean County
Assault charges are very serious and even a simple assault conviction can land you in jail. If you or a loved one has been charged with simple assault or aggravated in assault in Ocean County, New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to confront these accusations with the full force of legal knowledge and experience. The lawyers at our firm have handled countless assault cases throughout Jersey Shore areas. For a free consultation and discussion of your options when facing an assault charge, contact us today at (848) 238-2100.