Edison criminal defense lawyer Leon Matchin fights to obtain reduced or dismissed assault charges for clients charged in the Municipal and Superior Courts of Monmouth, Mercer, and Middlesex Counties, as well as other local areas. For over a decade, Mr. Matchin has been devoted to defeating convictions that can tarnish reputations and limit future opportunities. Allegations of violent offenses require prompt attention by an experienced attorney knowledgeable with respect to New Jersey’s criminal assault laws.
Simple assault is defined in Section 12-1, Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1). The statutes distinguish this offense, which is less serious, from aggravated assault. A conviction for simple assault requires proof of any one of the following acts:
- Attempt to purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another
- Negligent infliction of bodily injury to another person using a deadly weapon
- Attempt to make another fear imminent serious bodily harm through physical menace
- Causing bodily harm in fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent of both parties
In New Jersey, simple assault is a “disorderly persons” offense for which the maximum penalty is 6 months’ jail time and $1,000 in fines. In consensual fights, assault is only a petty “disorderly persons” offense. Simple assault can also be “downgraded” to a less serious petty offense.
Aggravated assault is a simple assault accompanied by certain “aggravating” factors that make the offense more serious. In cases involving children, causing bodily injury to any school employee constitutes an aggravated assault. Other aggravating factors may involve:
- Law enforcement, corrections officers
- Arson, causing accidental fire/explosion
- Providing any emergency medical service
- Showing extreme indifference to human life
- Use of listed or “substantially similar” firearm
- Semi-automatic rifles, pistols, shotguns
- Attached magazine, laser sighting system
Merely pointing an unloaded firearm—defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1(f)—at another person is an aggravated assault because it shows extreme indifference to the value of human life. As part of your defense, it is critical to downgrade aggravating factors to a “simple” assault or petty “disorderly persons” offense.
Defense for Assault Charges
New Jersey law provides few defenses to assault, so any argument justifying the offense must be skillfully crafted. N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4 excuses the use of force upon another in self-defense. In other words, those charged with assault must show a “reasonable belief” that the use of force was “immediately necessary” to protect themselves against an aggressor. Self-defense includes protecting against serious threats posing an “imminent danger” of bodily harm. However, the defense must be “proportionate” to the unlawful force or threat of harm requiring the defense.
The state must prove that the person acting in self-defense could have retreated with complete safety. Similarly, the prosecution bears the burden of showing that the defendant had the required knowledge or intent to cause or threaten bodily harm in simple assault. The absence of any legal element requires the dismissal of charges. Certain mitigating factors may also result in reduced charges or criminal penalties for assault. A disorderly persons or petty offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) is preferable to an aggravated assault conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b).
Charged with Assault
If you have been charged with assault, do not wait to contact Woodbridge criminal defense attorney Leon Matchin. Since 2001, Mr. Matchin has succeeded in defeating assault charges that touch all aspects of life. Whether the alleged assault involves domestic violence or gross negligence, a conviction can result in the loss of family, employment, and even immigration status. Call (732) 887-2479 for a free consultation or contact us online.