Cherry Hill NJ Assault By Auto Defense Lawyers
A serious criminal offense known as an assault by auto arises when someone operates their vehicle recklessly while eluding police, or when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This violation is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c) and can result in a felony charge or disorderly person offense depending on the circumstances of the accident. If you were involved in a DWI related accident with injuries or under other aggravated circumstances, our firm is well equipped to protect your interests. As criminal attorneys who have been defending assault by auto and DUI charges in Camden County and towns like Cherry Hill, Berlin, Pennsauken, and Gloucester Township for decades, we are well versed in what is involved in effectively contesting your N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c) offense. To speak to one of the attorneys on our 100 plus years of experience defense team, call our Cherry Hill Criminal Firm at 856-662-8300.
Assault By Auto Charge in Camden County
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c), the main difference between this offense and aggravated assault, apart from the obvious difference that one can only be committed by using a vehicle of some kind, is that the scienter requirement is one of recklessness, meaning all the state must prove is that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, they were operating it recklessly, and the recklessness caused harm. The seriousness of this offense may range from a crime of the second degree to a disorderly person offense, depending upon the nature of the resulting injuries to the victim and certain other alcohol-related factors.
Disorderly Persons Assault by Auto
When a person operates a motor vehicle in a reckless manner and, as a result of the recklessness, inflicts bodily injury upon a victim, the person will have committed an assault by auto. A common iteration of the disorderly person offense is when a person recklessly goes above the speed limit. For example, a person who goes 30 mph over the speed limit and crashes their car injuring their passenger would be guilty of assault by auto as a disorderly person offense, so long as their passenger sustained only bodily injury. Disorderly person offenses, while they rarely result in actual incarceration, they can result in heavy fines up to $1000 in most cases provided that there are no aggravating factors.
Fourth Degree Assault by Auto
When a person operates a motor vehicle in a reckless manner and, as a result of the recklessness, inflicts serious bodily injury upon a victim, the person will have committed an assault by auto. This level of assault is a crime of the fourth degree. To use the example from above, if in this same incident, the person who was driving recklessly over the speed limit caused their passenger to sustain serious injury, such as broken bones, then this would support a conviction for fourth-degree assault by auto. Fourth-degree crimes, unlike disorderly person offenses, can lead to imprisonment. Fourth degree crimes, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6 can lead to up to 18 months incarceration and a fine, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, of up to $10,000.
Third Degree Assault by Auto
Assault by auto is increased to a third-degree crime where the person who causes serious bodily injury was intoxicated at the time that the injury was caused. For the purposes of this offense, all the state need prove to show recklessness is intoxication. If this is the only evidence that they have of recklessness, then the offense of DWI and assault by auto are merged into the same offense. If they have other circumstances that tend to prove recklessness, then the offenses need not be merged into the same offense and you could be prosecuted for both. If, while intoxicated, the injuries that are caused only lead to bodily injury, not serious bodily injury, then this would be a fourth-degree crime. A third-degree offense, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6, can lead to incarceration of anywhere between 3 and 5 years, as well as a fine, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, of up to $15,000.
Second Degree Assault by Auto
For the second-degree offense to occur, the state needs to prove three material elements. The state must prove serious bodily injury, the state must prove that the driver was intoxicated, and they must prove that the vehicle was within a school zone. The statute is somewhat unclear as to whether the driving needs to be done within a school zone or whether the injury needs to occur within the school zone, but, in any event, where we have all three elements present, namely serious bodily injury, intoxication, and done within a school zone, this can give rise to a second degree assault by auto. A second-degree offense, pursuant to the same statutes, can lead to imprisonment of between 5 and 10 years, as well as a fine of up to $150,000. A second-degree assault by auto also triggers application of the No Early Release Act (“NERA”). This Act mandates that a defendant serve 85% of their assault by auto prison sentence before they are eligible for consideration for parole.
Camden Assault By Auto Attorney
An assault by auto charge can have disastrous consequences if not handled properly. This is why it is so important to select the right attorney to defend your Bellmawr, Haddonfield, Lindenwold or Runnemede related case. The best option is almost always that lawyer who possesses the most experience in defending both complex criminal charges and serious traffic violations like DWI. The criminal attorneys at our firm are experienced in both of these areas of law with many even having served as prosecutors. To discuss the facts of your case and what we believe your best alternatives are for avoiding your assault by auto charge, Contact us anytime online 24/7 or 856-662-8300.