New Jersey Simple Assault Charge
Criminal Attorney & Former Prosecutor
The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall defend individuals accused of Simple Assault in NJ. Our attorneys appear throughout the state on these offenses including Monmouth County, Ocean County, Union County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Hudson County, and Bergen County. If you or a loved one has been arrested or received a complaint for simple assault, a lawyer with our NJ law firm is available to speak to you. Initial consultations with our law office are without charge so you should not hesitate if you are in need of assist. The following information is provided to give you an understanding of the law and issues surrounding a simple assault offense.
New Jersey Simple Assault Law
The law concerning simple assault in NJ is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 and provides:
a. Simple Assault. A person is guilty of assault if he:
(1) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
(2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(3) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Simple Assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a flight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.
Explanation of NJ Simple Assault Statute
a. Attempts: The offense of simple assault is somewhat unique insofar as it can arise under multiple scenarios in terms of purpose or intent; that is, the charge is not limited to situations where an individual had the purpose and intent to assault someone. In this regard, a person may be found guilty under the simple assault statute if he acted either purposefully, knowingly, recklessly or negligently. The law also imposes criminal liability for "attempted" conduct which is somewhat unusual under our Criminal Code. The offense of attempted simple assault is provided for under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) and may arise when an individual attempts to cause bodily injury to another or where an individual puts an individual in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by engaging in menacing conduct.
b. "Bodily injury" and "serious bodily injury": The simple assault law make repeated reference to the term " bodily injury". Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. In other words, bodily injury contemplates some physical contact with another individual's body, whether it be actual or attempted. The term " serious bodily injury" takes the situation further in terms of the describing the extent of physical contact. Serious bodily injury refers to an injury which involves a substantial risk of death or causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of a body function.
c. Recklessly Causing a Simple Assault: Recklessly causing simple assault refers to the instance where an accused consciously disregards a known, substantial and unjustifiable risk that bodily injury shall be caused. The conduct must involve a gross deviation from what would be reasonable under the particular circumstances. What is and is not reasonable under a given set of circumstances can become subjective and a knowledgeable defense lawyer, such as those at our office, can be invaluable when this issue arises.
d. Negligently Causing a Simple Assault: A simple assault can only arise negligently where a deadly weapon is involved. A deadly weapon is defined as "any firearm or weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which in the manner it is used or is intended to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury or which in the manner it is fashioned would lead a victim reasonably to believe it to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury". A negligent assault is triggered under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 where an individual inflicts bodily injury with a deadly weapon under circumstances involving a knowing, substantial and unjustifiable risk of injury. The conduct must, again, violate the reasonableness standard previously discussed. A lawyer at your side is an imperative where someone is charged with this offense as it almost always is accompanied by a charge of possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, which is a very serious offense.
Grading for Simple Assault
A simple assault conviction is typically a disorderly persons offense. Where the simple assault arises in the context of a consensual fight or scuffle, then it is a petty disorderly persons offense. If the intended victim of a simple assault is, however, a police officer or some other public official, then the offense becomes an indictable felony charge. A simple assault committed on a public official, such as police officer, is a Third Degree offense if it results in bodily injury but otherwise it is a Fourth Degree Crime. The criminal lawyers at our firm are often successful in obtaining a downgrade of a simple assault charge and/or dismissal altogether.
Merger & Lesser Included Offenses of NJ Simple Assault
Harassment is a lesser-included offense to simple assault and may therefore a simple assault charge may be downgraded to harassment where the proofs support such an amendment. Similarly, an individual cannot be convicted of both harassment and simple assault insofar as harassment is a lesser included offense of simple assault. Under the same logic, an aggravated assault charge may be downgraded to simple assault and an individual cannot be convicted of both offenses. The New Jersey Model Jury Charge for Simple Assault is informative on this subject and can be found at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/charges/jury/assault1.htm
Fines & Penalties for Conviction of Simple Assault in NJ
If the simple assault involves a Third Degree offense it carries up to five (5) years in jail. If the simple assault is a Fourth Degree offense, then the maximum jail is 18 months. For a more detailed discussion on penalties for indictable assault charges, please consult our Aggravated Assault and Degree/Grade of Offense pages. In the vast majority of cases, however, a simple assault will involve a disorderly persons offense. The penalties for a disorderly persons conviction of simple assault are:
Jail range from 0 to six (6) months (30 days maximum for consensual fighting).
Probation as ordered by the Court.
Fine Ranging from $0 to $1,000.
VCCB Assessment of $50.
Safe Neighborhood Assessment of $75.
Court Costs $33.
Domestic Violence Surcharge (if applicable) $100.
If you or a loved one has been charged or arrested for simple assault, the criminal attorneys at our law firm can address your concerns and insure that you are properly defended. Our lawyers are experienced in handling these cases and appear on simple assault complaints in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Hudson County and Bergen County. No one wants an assault conviction on their record so an individual is best served in retaining an attorney to defend them. A lawyer is available immediately to assist you and the consultation is without charge. Please do not hesitate to contact our law firm.