Our Criminal Defense Firm Is Comprised Of 10 Former Prosecutors & Highly Skilled Litigators With Over 200 Years Of Combined Experience
Simple Assault charges are fairly common in municipal courts throughout New Jersey. The offense certainly isn’t confined to thugs and gang members. “Regular” people are charged with simple assault all the time as the result of arguments that escalate into physical contact, intoxicated behavior, domestic disputes and any number of other reasons. If you are facing a simple assault offense anywhere in NJ, it is important that you retain the best attorney to defend you since this charge carries penalties and collateral consequences that can be severe.
Our law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, has a team of New Jersey simple assault defense attorneys that are well equipped to defend you. Our ten (10) lawyers include former county and municipal prosecutors that possess well over 200 years of collective experience. We have secured countless dismissals and downgrades on behalf of clients arrested for simple assault over the last two (2) decades. To obtain a free consultation with a lawyer immediately, contact us at 877-450-8301.
New Jersey Simple Assault Law
The New Jersey law addressing the offense of simple assault is provided for in N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1. This violation is somewhat unique because it is triggered as the result of not only purposeful or knowing conduct, but also reckless or even negligent behavior. Someone commits a disorderly persons offense for simple assault if he/she:
(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.
The required proof to secure a conviction for simple assault depends on which of these three (3) categories applies and whether purposeful, knowing, reckless or negligent conduct must be shown. The headings below explain these an other aspects of the NJ simple assault statute.
I. 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.
II. “Bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury”: The simple assault law makes repeated reference to the term “bodily injury.” Bodily injury is defined under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1a 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. It should also be noted that New Jersey decisions such as N.B. v. T.B., 297 N.J.Super. 35, 43 (App.Div. 1997) have repeatedly stressed that the threshold for bodily injury is extremely low, even a stinging feeling from a slap will suffice.
III. 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.
IV. Negligently Causing a Simple Assault: A simple assault can only arise negligently where a deadly weapon is involved. N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1c defines deadly weapon 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 of a Simple Assault Charge
Simple assault is typically a disorderly persons offense. Where the violation arises as the result of a consensual fight or scuffle, then simple assault is a petty disorderly persons offense. If the victim of a simple assault is a police officer or some other public official, for example, a teacher or coach, then the conduct results in an aggravated assault offense which is an indictable felony. Aggravated assault arising in this context is a third-degree crime if it results in bodily injury and a fourth-degree crime if it doesn’t. The criminal lawyers at our firm are often successful in obtaining a downgrade of a simple assault charge and/or dismissal altogether.
Fines & Penalties for Simple Assault
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 charges, please consult Degree/Grade of Offense page. In the vast majority of cases, however, a simple assault will involve a disorderly persons offense since the victim is not a police officer, teacher or other individual falling under a protected class enhancing the offense to aggravated assault. 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.
New Jersey Simple Assault Domestic Violence Charges
When the accused commits a simple assault on a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife or another person falling under the protection of the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, the offense constitutes domestic violence. When this is the case, a criminal charge for simple assault can not only arise but also a restraining order. Two separate court proceedings, one involving prosecution of an assault offense and another in family court to decide whether the temporary restraining order should become final.
Statute of Limitation for Simple Assault
A summons or warrant complaint for simple assault must be filed within one (1) year of the conduct. This period is extended, however, if the charge arises as a downgrade, for example, where an aggravated assault has been reduced to a disorderly persons offense for simple assault. The simple assault is timely so long as prosecution on the more serious charge was filed within the statute of limitation.
Conditional Dismissal of a Simple Assault Offense
The diversionary program in New Jersey for non-drug disorderly persons offenses is Conditional Dismissal. An individual avoids a criminal conviction and all of the penalties for simple assault if they are admitted into and successfully complete a period of Conditional Dismissal probation which is typically one (1) year. Eligibility is limited to individuals who have never obtained Pretrial Intervention (“PTI”), Conditional Discharge or Conditional Dismissal previously (i.e. you are allowed one and only diversion under NJ Law).
Expungement of a Record of Conviction for Simple Assault
New Jersey allows an individual to expunge a conviction for simple assault provided the applicant waits five (5) years from the date that all conditions of a sentence are completed. If a simple assault is resolved through Conditional Dismissal, there is a six (6) month waiting period to remove a simple assault arrest from a record.
Contact Our Highly Skilled Simple Assault Defense Attorney At Our Firm
There are obviously many pitfalls to simple assault charges which make it advantageous to obtain representation from a skilled defense attorney. Here at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our team includes ten (10) attorneys, most of whom are former prosecutors, that have collective experience spanning over 200 years representing clients charged with simple assault. We certainly possess the know-how to secure an acquittal of this offense. To discuss your case with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area and will answer all your questions, call 877-450-8301. Our lawyers serve clients faced with a simple assault charge in the following communities: