Simple Assault

NJ Simple Assault Lawyer

Criminal Defense Attorney Helps You Contest Your Simple Assault Charges in New Jersey

When a person gets into a fistfight or some other physical altercation, one of the immediate concerns is avoiding serious injury. Another major concern for anyone involved in a fight is likely being arrested and charged with a crime. This is particularly true in New Jersey, where law enforcement and prosecutors have wide latitude to bring charges for simple assault and other violent crimes. When this happens, it is imperative that you have an experienced NJ simple assault lawyer on your side and helping you to avoid consequences that could include significant jail time. The reality is that talking to a qualified criminal defense attorney early in the legal process can make a huge difference in the outcome to your simple assault case.

Frank T. Luciano is an NJ criminal defense lawyer who is prepared to represent you in your simple assault case. If you face simple assault charges in Hackensack, Paramus, Elmwood Park, or anywhere else in New Jersey, contact Mr. Luciano now to start your defense.

N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) – Simple Assault Law in New Jersey

The New Jersey simple assault law is codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) of the state’s criminal code. New Jersey prosecutors can bring simple assault charges under the statute when the offender caused bodily injury to another person, threatened another person, or used a deadly weapon in a way that jeopardized the health and safety of others. The specific circumstances that can lead to simple assault charges include:

  • Causing Bodily Injury: A person is guilty of simple assault in NJ if they purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person. These charges can also arise when a person merely “attempts,” but fails, to actually cause bodily injury to someone else in this manner.
  • Threatening Another Person: A person is guilty of simple assault in NJ if they attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
  • Using a Deadly Weapon: A person is guilty of simple assault in NJ if they use a deadly weapon to negligently cause bodily injury to another person.

While N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) emphasizes the intent of the offender by stipulating that a person who “purposely” or “knowingly” causes bodily injury can be charged with a simple assault, it is also important to understand that intent is not a necessary element of the crime. That’s because the simple assault statute also prohibits an individual from “recklessly” causing bodily harm. This means that you could be in violation of the law if you acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. The standard is even lower when the offender used a deadly weapon: simple assault charges can be brought against an individual who acted “negligently” while brandishing a firearm or other weapon.

What Are the Criminal Penalties for Simple Assault in NJ?

The penalties for simple assault in New Jersey depend on the classification of the offense. These classifications for simple assault charges are as follows:

  • Disorderly Persons Offense: up to six (6) months in jail
  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offense: up to 30 days in jail

Most of the time, a charge for simple assault is classified as a disorderly persons offense (i.e., misdemeanor), as dictated by the NJ criminal code. What does this mean for a person charged with simple assault in New Jersey? Disorderly persons offenses cases are heard in the local municipal court of the city or town where the defendant has been charged. (By contrast, more serious criminal charges are adjudicated in the county’s Superior Court.) If convicted of a disorderly persons offense for simple assault, the defendant can be sentenced to up to six (6) months in jail and fined up to $1,000, in addition to community service requirements and an order to undergo anger management counseling.

There are instances when a simple assault charge is classified as a less serious offense. These types of charges, called “petty disorderly persons offenses,” are typically brought against defendants who have been accused of committing simple assault in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent. When the fight that resulted in the simple assault involved two people who agreed to the physical altercation in advance, the prosecutor may decide to file lesser charges. A conviction for a petty disorderly persons offense in NJ could result in the defendant being sentenced to up to 30 days in the county jail and fined up to $500.

Civil Penalties for Simple Assault Conviction in New Jersey

In addition to criminal penalties, there may also be civil penalties imposed in connection with your simple assault charges. That’s because the judge in your case may order you to pay restitution to the victim, especially if the victim suffered serious injuries and incurred significant medical bills. Beyond that, it is also possible that you could later be sued in civil court by the defendant. Since the resolution of your criminal matter could have an effect on any civil matter that occurs later, it is important that your attorney explains the possible implications of a guilty plea and does everything possible to protect you against additional legal action.

There are other possible consequences for a simple assault conviction in New Jersey. For instance, you could end up with an assault conviction on your permanent record. What could this mean for your future job prospects? Well, if prospective employers believe that you have violent tendencies because of a prior conviction for an assault charge, they might be reluctant to hire you. An assault conviction could also create personal problems for you because you may find yourself needing to explain your earlier arrest to friends and family members, as well as attempting to justify a guilty plea or conviction. The unfortunate truth is that your simple assault charges could cause serious damage to both your professional life and your personal life for many years to come. Although a qualified NJ criminal defense lawyer may be able to get your criminal conviction expunged later, it is best to avoid this problem in the first place.

Paramus Criminal Defense Attorney Gets Your Aggravated Assault Charges Downgraded to Simple Assault Charges

It is possible that an overzealous prosecutor may decide to overcharge you under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b): what should be a simple assault charge handled in municipal court could easily become an aggravated assault charge handled in the Superior Court. The difference here is enormous: aggravated assault is classified as a crime (i.e., a felony), which means that you would be subject to significant prison time if convicted. Aggravated assault charges in New Jersey tend to apply when the victim is a police officer, firefighter, public official, or a member of some other protected class of persons. The degree of harm suffered by the victim can also dictate whether aggravated assault charges apply: an offender who manifests extreme indifference to the value of human life while causing the injury is likely to be charged with aggravated assault.

The good news is that a skilled NJ criminal defense lawyer may be able to get your aggravated assault charges downgraded to simple assault charges, thereby minimizing the penalties you face. Additionally, most simple assault charges in New Jersey can be downgraded or pleaded out so that the defendant avoids the most severe penalties and stays out jail. Moreover, even if the defendant is ultimately convicted on simple assault charges, there is a presumption of non-incarceration, which means that the defendant is often able to avoid jail time. Many times, the defendant in a simple assault case is ordered to perform community service, attend anger management classes, and demonstrate contrition to the victim and to the court.

Contact Hackensack Criminal Defense Attorney Frank T. Luciano About Your Simple Assault Case

Frank T. Luciano is a criminal defense attorney with decades of experience representing clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Hudson County. If you have been charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, or any other “crime of violence,” you should call or email Mr. Luciano today to schedule a free initial consultation.