New Jersey Attorney Defenses for Assault

Assault is a very common charge seen at the municipal and county court level in New Jersey. Often, assault occurs between people who know each other and is domestic in nature. If you or a loved one has been charged with assault, the best thing to do is contact a New Jersey attorney. An attorney will have experience defending clients who have been charged with assault. With an attorney’s help, charges can be completely dropped or at least downgraded to avoid some of the harsher penalties. There are defenses available for assault charges that have proven to be very successful in the past. Through sharing your story with your attorney, they will be able to create a defense to help you in court. 

What Qualifies as Assault Under New Jersey Law? 

Assault is defined in New Jersey law 2C:12-1. In this section of the code, assault is broken out into two categories: simple and aggravated. The code says the following about what is defined as simple assault:

Simple assault includes attempts to purposely cause bodily injury to another, negligently causing injury with a deadly weapon, or attempts of physical menace to cause someone to fear potential bodily injury.

  • Simple assault is considered a disorderly person’s offense. If the assault is caused by a mutual fight, it will be charged as a petty disorderly person’s offense.
  • Simple assault is handled in the municipal courts.

Aggravated assault is a more serious charge. It involves more serious bodily injuries. Here is what New Jersey law says about aggravated assault:

  • Aggravated assault includes attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another person on purpose, attempts to purposely cause injury with a deadly weapon, recklessly causing injury with a deadly weapon, or points a firearm at someone while demonstrating extreme indifference to human life.
  • Aggravated assault is considered a second, third, or fourth degree crime depending on the situation and severity of injuries.
  • Aggravated assault is an indictable crime and is handled at the county court level. 

Assault Penalties and Consequences

Simple assault is considered a misdemeanor and has penalties including up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of up to $1,000. These penalties can be reduced if the assault was considered mutual combat. If mutual combat is the case, the jail time is reduced to a maximum of 30 days. Aggravated assault has stricter penalties that include various amounts of jail time and fines based on the degree of the crime. 

Potential Defenses and New Jersey Attorney

Attorneys are experienced in defending clients accused of assault since it is such a common charge. Whatever your case or situation may be, it is likely that your attorney has worked on a similar case before. When meeting with your lawyer, it is important that you are fully honest about your situation and what exactly happened during the assault. Knowing and understanding these details will help your attorney be able to form a defense around your case. Here are a few common defenses that are used in assault cases that may be applicable to your situation: 


Self-defense is a very common assault defense that is used in court. It is especially common in domestic violence cases. The attorney will work to prove that their client felt threatened by the other person which caused them to act with assault as a method to defend themselves. If the attorney can prove that there has been a past history of domestic abuse and violence, the charges will often be dropped because it makes sense why the defendant would act out with assault. 

Defense of Others 

Similar to the self-defense route, an attorney can often prove that the act of assault occurred due to an attempt to defend others. This defense is often used when children are involved. If one of the spouses has a history of committing child abuse or has threatened to do so, the defendant may act through assault because they feel they need to protect their children. This type of defense can often lead to charges being completely dropped or at least downgraded. 

Mutual Combat 

If two people get into a fight, technically they are both committing assault against each other. While a mutual fight or mutual combat is still considered a petty disorderly person’s offense, the consequences are much less. Jail time is reduced to a maximum of 30 days instead of 6 months. 

Defense of Property 

This defense is less common but can occur. If you commit assault against someone who is trying to steal from your or break into your home, this is grounds for a solid defense. It is considered reasonable in the court of law that a person may commit assault during a situation like a home break-in, in order to protect their home, themselves, and their family.

Assault is a common charge in New Jersey and also one that can be easily defended in court depending on the situation. Assault can be broken into two categories of simple and aggravated. Simple assault is considered a disorderly person’s offense while aggravated assault is an indictable crime. Hiring a New Jersey attorney is an important first step. They will take a close look at your case and determine which type of defense is best in your situation. Common defenses include self-defense, defense of others, mutual combat, and defense of property.

New Jersey Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with assault, give Leon Matchin, a New Jersey attorney, a call at (833) 732-7320 or contact him via email at He will set up an initial consultation to learn more about you and your case.

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