Assault and Defenses In New Jersey Law
Assault Crimes in New Jersey
Assault is a serious criminal charge, with potentially serious consequences. Here is a brief guide to the New Jersey laws on assault, and the possible defenses to these charges.
Types of Assault
In New Jersey, there are two categories that classify assaults. The first one is simple assault, and the more serious charge is known as aggravated assault.
A simple assault in New Jersey is when an individual attempts to cause, or knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. This also includes negligent behavior that causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon (gun, knife, etc.) Violent threats can also be charged as an assault. A simple assault is charged as a disorderly persons offense, also known as a misdemeanor. Possible punishment if convicted can be up to 6 months in jail and/or a up to $1,000 fine.
When it comes to mutual fights, you can still be charged under the simple assault protocol. However, this is charged one tier lower than the above behaviors as a petty disorderly persons offense. This is also a misdemeanor that can put you in jail for up to 30 days.
The more serious version of assault in New Jersey is classified as aggravated assault. There are a number of behaviors that can elevate a simple assault charge to an aggravated one under New Jersey law. These include
- Recklessly causing injury to another person with a deadly weapon. This does not mean intentional behavior. If you meant to stab one guy and accidentally stabbed another one, you can still get hit with an aggravated charge
- Attempting to cause or purposely inflicting injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- Attempting to inflict serious injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly, or in a negligent or reckless manner. No deadly weapon needed here; if you injure someone else seriously with just a fist, it is enough for an aggravated charge
- Recklessly pointing a firearm at another person. It is important to note that it doesn’t matter if the person holding the gun believes the gun is loaded or isn’t loaded. It still qualifies under the statute
One last note is that if an assault is made on a first responder like a police officer or firefighter, an assault is automatically bumped up to an aggravated designation. The same goes for assaults with vehicles.
Possible Defenses to Assault Charges
An assault charge is a serious legal matter that can cause you to acquire a permanent criminal record, be forced to pay fines, and even spend serious time in prison. When it comes to taking on an assault charge, there are some commonly used defenses that you can use to reduce or even get the charges dismissed.
- Self-Defense. The most commonly known, the self-defense is used when the defendant argues that they did commit an assault, but that it was justified because of the threatening actions of the victim. If the defendant can show that the victim was the aggressor and the defendant believed that they acted reasonably to protect themselves, then the assault may be dismissed as justified. As long as the defendant’s actions did not go beyond the force necessary to stop the situation, you may have a chance to get the charges dismissed.
- Defense of a Third Party. The same criteria as above can be applied to the defense of someone else. If you believed that the assault was necessary to prevent the death or serious injury of someone else, this can be a defense against an assault charge.
- Burden of Proof. As with every criminal charge, the prosecutor has the duty to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your defense attorney may challenge the credibility of witnesses or other evidence to convince the jury the prosecutor has not met this burden.
Contact An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Assault Charges in New Jersey Today!
Were you arrested or charged with assault in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The skilled attorneys at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC represent clients charged with assault all throughout New Jersey. Call 877-423-4878 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have several offices, conveniently located in Scotch Plains, Westfield, Morristown, East Brunswick, Clifton, Cherry Hill, and Newark, New Jersey.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.