Assault is a violent crime in New Jersey, and having this type of offense on your criminal record will have a detrimental impact on your life. Not only will you have to undergo harsh legal penalties if convicted, but you'll also experience strict limitations in areas of your post-conviction life. Many offenders report that they've had trouble finding decent employment, going back to school, or even finding housing after an assault conviction. This is why it's imperative that you avoid a conviction at all costs.
The most important thing you can do after acquiring assault charges is to obtain an attorney. The Lento Law Firm offers seasoned legal representation you can trust. We'll investigate your case and build a solid defense on your behalf. Remember, in our justice system, you have rights, one of which includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We can help you overcome these charges and achieve true justice.
A well-informed client is a client equipped for success. With that in mind, we'll provide an overview of what assault charges entail in New Jersey, the penalties you'll face, and why retaining an attorney is critical.
What Constitutes Assault in New Jersey?
Criminal assault can be charged three different ways depending on the circumstances: simple assault, aggravated assault, and assault by automobile.
Simple assault is the least severe assault charge. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1(a), a person commits this crime when he or she knowingly or negligently causes bodily harm to a person or puts him or her in reasonable fear of bodily harm.
One can be charged with simple assault if he or she threatens another person with a weapon, for example.
Simple assault can be elevated to an aggravated assault if any aggravating factor is present. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1(b), a person may be convicted of this crime if he or she purposely, knowingly, or recklessly commits simply assault while exhibiting an extreme difference to the value of human life.
Some examples of aggravating factors include the use of a deadly weapon, the start of a fire, or an assault on a law enforcement officer, fireman, paramedic, teacher, or judge.
Assault by Automobile
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c), a person will be found guilty of assault by automobile if he or she operates a vehicle with the purpose or intent of colliding into them.
All assault charges are serious and require the assistance of an attorney. Be sure to contact an experienced attorney to properly handle these charges.
Defining “Bodily injury”
Bodily injury is defined as physical harm, pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. To be convicted of any form of assault, the victim in question doesn't have to actually suffer bodily injury. This element is satisfied as long as the victim has a reason to believe that they would have been injured.
Defining a “Deadly Weapon”
A deadly weapon is a weapon that is capable of killing or causing death. Obviously, weapons like firearms and knives fall under this category, but everyday inanimate objects can be characterized as “deadly” under certain circumstances. A small garden tool may not be deemed a deadly weapon in a normal context, but it can be if you repeatedly hit somebody over the head with it. Objects like a rock, a pen, or a vehicle can be classified as deadly weapons if used in a fashion that could have, or did, cause serious bodily harm. Some courts have even deemed parts of the body like hands and feet as deadly weapons in certain cases.
Legal Penalties for Assault in New Jersey
Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense, so it's punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and a maximum of $1,000 in fines.
An aggravated assault conviction is a crime of the second degree. It can result in up to 10 years in prison and as much as $150,000 in fines.
Typically, assault by auto is a crime of the fourth degree. This offense is punishable by up to 18 months in a state prison and a fine up to $10,000. It can be elevated by a crime of the third degree, which results in an incarceration term from 3 to 5 years and a fine of up to $15,000.
Potential Defenses for Assault
An indictment for assault charges is determined by the prevalence of a number of factors. Attorney Joseph Lento of the Lento Law Firm has an adept knowledge of the elements of a case that must be proven to prosecute a defendant of assault, and therefore understands the potential defenses to assert to disprove these elements. A defense can be so convincing that it leads to a defendant's sentence being reduced or downgraded. A solid defense can even lead to the dismissal of your case altogether. The following defenses could possibly be asserted in your case if applicable:
You were defending yourself. A viable defense that is commonly used in assault crimes is the justifiable claim of self-defense. According to New Jersey law, the use of force is justifiable in cases when a person has a valid reason to believe that the force is immediately necessary to protect themselves against unlawful force by another.
The incident falls outside the statute of limitations. In every state, there is a limited duration for the bringing of certain kinds of legal action. In New Jersey, assault criminal charges must be filed within two years of the assault. If charges are filed after this deadline, a criminal defense attorney may be able to get your case dismissed.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Assault is a serious crime in New Jersey. To avoid an assault conviction and the legal and collateral repercussions that come with one, you need the help of a seasoned criminal defense attorney.
If you're looking for quality legal representation, the Lento Law Firm is the ideal firm for you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and credentials to defend and counsel people who've acquired assault charges. He will provide you with options in this predicament, build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped. Mr. Lento keeps flexible office hours and is willing to work around your schedule. To set up a consultation or for more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.