A New Jersey Assault Lawyer Can Provide Skilled Criminal Defense Representation for Assault and Battery Cases Statewide
In New Jersey, facing assault and battery charges can be an extremely serious matter. If you were accused of these types of crimes, an experienced New Jersey assault lawyer can provide you with the skilled criminal defense you need. Contact Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. today for a confidential initial consultation.
Assault and Battery Laws in New Jersey
While some states’ criminal laws treat assault and battery as separate offenses, in New Jersey, battery is considered a form of assault under Section 2C:12-1 of the Code of Criminal Justice. This law states:
- Simple assault. A person is guilty of assault if he . . . purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or . . . [n]egligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. . . .
- Aggravated assault. A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he . . . causes [serious bodily] injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury; . . . purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or . . . [r]ecklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. . . .
Fight the Penalties for Simple and Aggravated Assault with a New Jersey Assault Lawyer
In most cases, simple assault is classified as a disorderly persons’ offense carrying up to six months’ jail time, a fine of up to $1,000 and the possibility of restitution.
Aggravated assault is a serious crime. Penalties range from probation to ten years in prison (often with 8 ½ years required before you will become eligible for parole). Aggravated assault charges can be filed in New Jersey in cases that involve:
- Causing, or attempting to cause, serious bodily injury;
- Assaults with weapons;
- Assaults with cars;
- Assaults on police or firefighters;
- Assaults on school teachers or officials; and
- Assaults on the elderly.
Aggravated assault can be classified as either a second, third or fourth-degree offense, each of which carries a range of serious penalties as follows:
- Second-degree aggravated assault – 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and up to a $150,000 fine.
- Third-degree aggravated assault – Three to five years of imprisonment and up to a $15,000 fine.
- Fourth-degree aggravated assault – Up to 18 months of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Potential Defenses to Assault Charges
There are several possible defenses to simple and aggravated assault charges in New Jersey. Determining which defenses you have available requires the advice of an experienced New Jersey assault lawyer; and, to make sure you have the best chance possible to assert the strongest possible defense, it is important that you discuss your assault charge with an attorney right away. Some of the potential defenses to assault charges include:
- Self Defense – If you were being attacked or feared for your safety, your actions may have been justified as self-defense. However, asserting self-defense presents some unique challenges, as it requires you to acknowledge that you engaged in conduct that could be prosecuted as assault or aggravated assault under other circumstances. If you believe that you acted in self defense, it will be important for you to work with an experienced New Jersey assault lawyer who can effectively present this defense on your behalf.
- Defense of Others – If you took action to defend someone else who was under threat of serious injury or death, you may be able to assert the defense of, “defense of others.” Similar to self defense, defense of others presents the risk of admitting that you engaged in conduct that would justify criminal penalties under other circumstances.
- Defense of Property – Depending upon the circumstances involved, if you committed a violent act to protect your home, you may have had legal justification to do so. New Jersey recognizes defense of property as a justification for assault in some circumstances; but, here too, asserting this defense effectively (and without increasing your risk of conviction) requires the advice and representation of an experienced attorney.
- Mutual Fighting – Mutual fighting is a partial defense to aggravated assault that can lower your charge to simple assault. Under New Jersey law, if two individuals consented to fight one another, then proving this mutual consent can provide protection against the most-severe penalties imposed under Section 2C:12-1.
- Duress – The defense of duress provides protection against criminal culpability for assault and aggravated assault in cases in which the defendant was coerced by the use of force or the threat of use of force against the defendant or another. This is somewhat similar to asserting self defense or defense of others, and asserting a duress defense successfully requires an informed defense strategy and experienced legal representation.
- Intoxication – Showing that you were under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or a prescription medication can provide a defense in some cases. Generally, in order to assert an intoxication defense, you must be able to show that your intoxication was involuntary.
- Mental Problems or Mental Illness – Diminished capacity and mental illness are also potential defenses to assault and battery charges in New Jersey, but here too, defendants need to be extremely careful. If you are found not guilty by reason of mental illness, this could result in being committed to a psychiatric hospital indefinitely.
- No Use of a Deadly Weapon – Many aggravated assault charges are based on the use of a weapon in the commission of the crime. Under Section 2C:12-1, simply having a weapon in your possession is not enough to elevate assault to aggravated assault. The weapon must actually be used to cause bodily injury. If you had a weapon but you did not use it, then you may be able to use this to reduce your charge to simple assault.
- Constitutional Violations – Criminal defendants in New Jersey have several fundamental constitutional rights. If the police or prosecutors violated your constitutional rights, this may provide a full or partial defense to your assault charge. However, a violation of your constitutional rights will not automatically impact on your case—you must hire a New Jersey assault lawyer to raise the violation in court on your behalf.
- Lack of Evidence – Finally, while it is possible to defend against an assault or aggravated assault charge by presenting evidence that supports one or more of the defenses discussed above, it is important not to forget that the prosecution has the burden of proof. If prosecutors do not have the evidence they need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then you are entitled to a “not guilty” verdict at trial.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation with a New Jersey Assault Lawyer
If you have been charged with assault in New Jersey, our certified criminal trial attorneys can help you fight to avoid a criminal conviction. To get started with a free and confidential consultation, call 877-435-6371 or contact us online now to speak with a New Jersey assault lawyer in confidence.