Although the terms “assault” and “battery” are used interchangeably in some states, they are deemed separate criminal offenses under New Jersey Law. Assault and battery crimes tend to be grouped together because they often occur together.
The importance of being informed when charged with assault and/or battery cannot be overstated. To fully understand the gravity of these charges, you must grasp the distinctions between these two crimes. In this article, the Lento Law Firm will address the various assault and battery crimes people acquire in Burlington County, the consequences of a conviction, and how legal representation can help.
In New Jersey, assault is characterized as the threat or act of offensive and unwanted physical contact. Assault is separated into two different charges: assault and aggravated assault.
Simple assault is the less serious of the assault crimes. New Jersey laws (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) dictate that simple assault is constituted if the following elements are present:
- a person attempts to cause bodily injury to another person, or who recklessly, knowingly, or purposely causes bodily injury to someone else
- bodily injury is negligently caused with a deadly weapon
- The threat and fear of serious bodily injury through physical menace (holding someone at gunpoint, brandishing a knife, etc.)
Bodily injury refers to “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition,” under N.J.S.A 2C:11-1's definition. Simply put, bodily injuries are sustained and exist, but are not too severe.
It's important to note that simple assault is a crime that can still be constituted even if no one gets hurt. According to the third element listed above, the mere threat of serious bodily injury is enough to be convicted of this crime.
If an Burlington County judge rules that you are guilty of simple assault, this crime can either be charged as a disorderly persons offense or a crime of the fourth degree depending on certain circumstances.
In cases where an employee in a care facility has committed assault against an elderly person or in cases where the crime happens at a youth event with children present under the age of 16, simple assault is a crime of the fourth degree. This crime carries penalties of a prison term of up to 18 months and a fine up to $1,000.
In every other circumstance, simple assault is classified as a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by a fine.
A charge of aggravated assault is much more serious than simple assault, and it carries pretty harsh penalties.
An individual may be charged with aggravated assault if:
- the assault is against a public official, police officer or fireman
- If the victim is a family member
- If the victim suffered serious bodily injury
- If the defendant used a deadly weapon
- If the defendant pointed a gun at the victim or otherwise threatened the victim with a gun; or
- The assault occurred while the defendant tried to flee from a police officer
An aggravated assault charge may result in up to 10 years in prison.
Although incredibly similar, assault and battery are not exactly the same. In order to be found guilty of criminal battery, you must have made physical contact with an alleged victim or an extension of him or her (i.e. their clothing, something they were holding, etc). As opposed to cases of simple assault, where the threat of harm is enough to constitute a crime.
Battery charges follow if the act led to a victim's physical injury. Battery can be a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree crime, depending on its severity.
In Burlington County, most courts will charge you with aggravated assault if you have been convicted of criminal battery. So, while you may have committed an act that is recognized as battery, the actual criminal charge you'll face in an Burlington County courtroom will most likely be aggravated assault.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Assault and battery are violent crimes. Therefore, with an assault and/or battery conviction your criminal record, it will be difficult for you to live a normal post-conviction life. Ventures you didn't think twice about pursuing before a conviction - like finding a decent job, going back to school, receiving government aid, taking out a loan, and exercising rights like owning a firearm - are limited or outright impossible to do with an assault and battery conviction looming over your life. The best way to avoid the trouble that comes in the aftermath of these crimes is to avoid a conviction altogether. Contact the Lento Law Firm today by phone at 888-535-3686 or online for experienced and aggressive legal representation.