NJ Assault by Auto Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorney Helps Clients Accused of Assault by Auto in New Jersey
The smartest move you can make after being charged with assault by auto in New Jersey is to speak with a qualified NJ assault by auto lawyer. Assault by auto is a special kind of violent crime that typically accompanies other charges, including traffic charges and drunk driving charges. However, unlike those other offenses, assault by auto is commonly classified as a crime in NJ. This means that offenders often wind up being sentenced to serve a significant term of incarceration in state prison. Just one momentary lapse of judgment while behind the wheel of a car could destroy your life. Whether you were intoxicated, driving while texting, driving while using a cell phone, or simply lost control of your vehicle and caused an accident resulting in serious injuries, you could find yourself in a difficult legal situation.
Frank T. Luciano is an accomplished criminal defense lawyer who helps clients fight assault by auto charges in Paramus, Hackensack, Fort Lee, and across NJ. Contact Mr. Luciano now to schedule a free consultation about your assault by auto case and start your defense today.
N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c) – Assault by Auto Statute in New Jersey
Assault by auto is a criminal offense in New Jersey and is addressed in the NJ criminal code by N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c). Assault by auto charges are technically covered in a subsection of the same statute that addresses simple assault and aggravated assault. The primary difference between assault by auto and these other types of assault is, as one might expect, the use of an automobile or similar vehicle to commit the assault. The consequences of a conviction in all NJ assault cases are very serious, with a convicted offender facing prison time and a criminal record.
As set forth by the New Jersey assault by auto law, an individual is guilty of assault by auto when that individual drives a vehicle or vessel in a reckless or dangerous manner and causes injury to another person. There are several different scenarios laid out by the assault by auto statute, with each scenario resulting in different degrees of criminal charges:
- Second Degree: The most serious assault by auto charge a person can face is second degree assault by auto. Under New Jersey law, an individual can be charged with second degree assault by auto if they operate an automobile or vessel in violation of NJ drunk driving laws and cause serious bodily injury while driving on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property.
- Third Degree: A person can be charged with third degree assault by auto if they drive a vehicle or vessel in violation of NJ DWI laws and cause serious bodily injury to another person. It is also a third degree crime if the offender causes serious bodily injury while purposely driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner by speeding, making erratic lane changes, disregarding a traffic light, failing to yield, or tailgating another vehicle.
- Fourth Degree: A person can be charged with fourth degree assault by auto in NJ if they drive a vehicle or vessel recklessly and cause serious bodily injury to another person. It is also a fourth degree crime if the offender drives a vehicle while committing a DWI offense and causes bodily injury to another person.
- Disorderly Persons Offense: The charges for assault by auto are reduced to a disorderly persons offense (i.e., misdemeanor) if the offender drives a vehicle or vehicle recklessly and causes bodily injury, as opposed to a more serious form of injury.
A charge for a second degree, third degree, or fourth degree criminal offense in New Jersey is considered a crime (i.e., felony). Criminal offenses are handled in the county’s Superior Court, with a judge potentially sentencing a convicted offender to serve time in NJ state prison. That’s because the Superior Court is reserved for the most serious criminal cases. By contrast, disorderly persons offenses are considered less serious offenses and, as such, are handled in the local municipal court. A conviction for a disorderly persons offense is potentially punishable by jail time, but most disorderly persons offenses do not result in jail time for the offender.
What Are the Penalties for Assault by Auto in New Jersey?
A conviction on assault by auto charges in New Jersey can result in severe penalties. Those penalties vary, depending on the underlying facts of the case and the degree of charge filed against the defendant. These are the possible charges, and penalties, that a person can face for assault by auto in NJ:
- Second Degree Crime: 5-10 years in NJ state prison
- Third Degree Crime: 3-5 years in NJ state prison
- Fourth Degree Crime: up to 18 months in NJ state prison
- Disorderly Persons Offense: up to 6 months in jail
Second degree assault by auto charges usually involve a DWI accident in a school zone, with young children often being placed in danger. That’s why New Jersey lawmakers not only imposed harsh punishments for these types of assault by auto offenses, but also ensured that offenders would likely be subject to prison time: there is a presumption of incarceration for second degree assault by auto convictions. Moreover, the No Early Release Act (NERA) applies to these types of charges, which means that a person convicted of second degree assault by auto may be required to serve a minimum mandatory term of incarceration in state prison before gaining parole eligibility.
Related Charges: Assault by Auto & Death by Auto in NJ
An assault by auto charge, by definition, involves a motor vehicle accident that results in bodily injury to someone other than the offender. But what happens when the accident results in a fatality? In that case, the criminal charge against the offender can be elevated to death by auto. Anyone who recklessly operates a car or other vessel in New Jersey and causes an accident that kills someone can be charged with the much more serious crime of death by auto. A conviction on death by auto charges will expose the defendant to a sentence of 5-10 years in NJ state prison.
If the defendant was intoxicated when they caused the fatal accident, or if they were driving recklessly in a school zone, then the charges may be elevated to vehicular homicide. This is a first degree crime that carries a punishment of 10-20 years in NJ state prison.
New Jersey criminal defense attorney Frank T. Luciano is ready to assist you with your defense. Mr. Luciano prepares each case as though it will eventually go to trial, so he is always ready to make the strongest possible arguments on behalf of his clients in the courtroom. For a better understanding of what to expect from Mr. Luciano in your assault by auto case, visit the Testimonials section on this website.
Contact Paramus Assault by Auto Attorney for a Free Initial Consultation
Have you been charged with assault by auto in New Jersey? Then Frank T. Luciano can help you fight the charges. Mr. Luciano is an accomplished NJ criminal defense lawyer who has decades of experience in Bergen County, Passaic County, and Hudson County. Call or email Mr. Luciano now to schedule a free consultation.