New Jersey lawyer

Assault in New Jersey can carry some hefty fines, depending on the level and allegations associated with the case. The lower range of penalties for assault typically includes a fine of $1,000 and six months in jail. Penalties can reach all the way up to a $150,000 fine with ten years in jail. Working with a New Jersey lawyer can help you understand the specifics of your case so you can build a strong defense. There are three levels of assault in New Jersey, each with its own associated penalties.

Simple Assault and How a New Jersey Lawyer Can Help

Simple assault is the lowest level of assault in New Jersey. A simple assault case has lesser penalties than other levels, but can still leave a mark on your life and record. In order to make a case stick, the prosecution has to make a strong case that the defendant performed one of the following.

Attempted To Cause Bodily Injury

Even attempting to assault someone can be considered simple assault in New Jersey. Taking action with the interest of harming someone can still land you with penalties, even if there were no injuries. 

Purposely, Knowingly, or Recklessly Caused Bodily Injury

If you do cause bodily injury to another person, a simple assault charge will only stick if the action was purposeful or reckless. A purposeful or knowing assault includes the defendant’s desire and conscious decision to take action against someone. Reckless assault includes actions that could, to a rational mind, result in injury to another person. 

Unknowingly or Negligently Caused Bodily Injury with a Deadly Weapon

In most cases, causing injury unknowingly isn’t considered assault. However, New Jersey law dictates that any bodily injury caused by a deadly weapon can be charged as assault, even if the defendant was not purposefully attempting to harm someone. A deadly weapon, according to New Jersey code 2C:11-1(c), is any item that has the capacity to cause death or serious bodily injury, regardless of how it is regularly used. For example, a kitchen knife regularly used to cut vegetables is still considered a deadly weapon.

Caused Fear of Serious Bodily Injury

Threatening another person through physical menace is assault in New Jersey. Actions and words that create a legitimate fear of physical harm are about the same as actually harming them. If you threaten to cause serious injury or insinuate such a threat, you can be charged with simple assault.

Simple assault cases are usually handled as disorderly persons offenses (also known as misdemeanors). The penalties you can expect to receive depend on the intent of harm and the degree of bodily injury. Maximum penalties for simple assault include:

  • $1,000 Fine
  • Six Months of Jail Time

Aggravated Assault and How a New Jersey Lawyer Can Help

When an assault case includes severe injuries and the use of deadly weapons, it’s an aggravated assault. Aggravated assaults carry heavier penalties, with varying ranges depending on the level of harm and injury intent. In order for the prosecution to classify a case as aggravated assault, they must prove that the defendant:

  • Attempted to cause serious bodily injury
  • Purposely or knowingly caused serious bodily injury
  • Showed an extreme indifference to the value of human life
  • Knowingly caused bodily harm with a deadly weapon
  • Knowingly pointed a firearm at another person (under some circumstances, even if the trigger wasn’t pulled)
  • Performed an act of simple assault against a police officer or other certain official government employees
New Jersey lawyer
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Aggravated assault cases can be indictable offenses (also called felonies). Cases can range from second- to fourth-degree offenses, each carrying heftier penalties. Maximum aggravated assault penalties include:

  • Fourth Degree 
    • 18 Months in Prison
    • $10,000 Fine
  • Third Degree
    • Three to Five Years in Prison
    • $15,000 Fine
  • Second Degree
    • Five to Ten Years in Prison
    • $150,000 Fine

Assault by Auto

Reckless driving is a serious offense in New Jersey and has harsh penalties. If you cause bodily injury to another person by reckless driving, you can face assault by auto charges. Because the only legal factor in an assault by auto case is the act of recklessly driving, the prosecution does not need to determine or prove any intent to harm. The act of driving recklessly itself constitutes said intent.

Assault by auto cases are also indictable offenses, ranging between second- and fourth-degree charges depending on the extent of the injury. The penalties for assault by auto include:

  • Fourth Degree (i.e., regular reckless driving that leads to serious bodily injury) 
    • 18 Months in Prison
    • $10,000 Fine
  • Third Degree (i.e., the driver was intoxicated and there was serious bodily injury)
    • Three to Five Years in Prison
    • $15,000 Fine
  • Second Degree (i.e., the driver was intoxicated in a school zone and there was serious bodily injury)
    • Five to Ten Years in Prison
    • $150,000 Fine

New Jersey Lawyer for Assault Charges

Assault charges of any degree can seriously impact your life. Understanding your case and the specifics of your charge is necessary for building a strong defense. Attorney Leon Matchin has devoted his practice to helping fight criminal charges, including assault, in New Jersey. If you are facing charges of simple assault, aggravated assault, or assault by auto, don’t hesitate to seek help from a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey lawyer. Contact Leon Matchin today at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected] to schedule a consultation about your case.