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Understanding the Elements of an Assault Charge in New Jersey

June 21, 2021 | Posted In Criminal Law |

In New Jersey, assault charges can carry penalties ranging from a $1,000 fine and six months of jail time to a $150,000 fine and a 10-year sentence. The penalties that are on the table depend heavily on the allegations involved, and there are several different ways that prosecutors can pursue assault charges under New Jersey law. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, you will need to do everything you can to defend yourself, and you will need an experienced New Jersey assault lawyer on your side.

There are three main types of assault charges in New Jersey: (i) simple assault, (ii) aggravated assault and (iii) assault by auto or vessel.

Elements of Simple Assault

Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense in most cases. In order to secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove that the defendant:

  • Attempted to cause bodily injury to another;
  • Purposely, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to another;
  • Negligently caused bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or,
  • Attempted by “physical menace (i.e., physical threat)” to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

As you can see, attempting to cause bodily injury is enough to trigger an assault charge under New Jersey law. Accidentally harming someone is not a crime unless the incident involves a deadly weapon. If your case does not involve a deadly weapon, the prosecution must be able to prove that you acted purposely, knowingly or recklessly. This does not require evidence that you intended to cause harm.

Elements of Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault can be prosecuted as a second, third or fourth-degree indictable offense under New Jersey law. In most cases, to secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove that the defendant:

  • Attempted to cause serious bodily injury to another;
  • Purposely or knowingly caused serious bodily injury to another;
  • Caused serious bodily injury under circumstances showing extreme indifference to the value of human life;
  • Attempted to cause bodily harm with a deadly weapon;
  • Knowingly or recklessly caused bodily harm with a deadly weapon;
  • Knowingly pointed a firearm at another person under circumstances showing extreme indifference to the value of human life; or,
  • Committed a simple assault against a police officer, an employee of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, or certain other individuals.

Elements of Assault By Auto or Vessel

The crime of assault by auto or vessel involves “driv[ing] a vehicle or vessel recklessly and caus[ing] either serious bodily injury or bodily injury to another.” Since “reckless” conduct is all that is required, prosecutors do not need to prove that you intentionally, purposely or knowingly put other motorists or pedestrians in harm’s way. If you were driving recklessly, and if you hurt someone else while driving recklessly, you are at risk of facing a criminal conviction under New Jersey law.

Speak with a New Jersey Assault Lawyer in Confidence

Assault cases are complicated, and asserting an effective defense requires a thorough understanding of the laws that apply. To discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey assault lawyer in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or request a confidential consultation online.

 

Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609-685-0665.

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