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Simple or aggravated? The charge depends on the bodily damage

Assault occurs when a person either injures or attempts to cause injury to another person. New Jersey categorizes assault into two charges, simple or aggravated. Factors differentiating between the two charges include the seriousness of the bodily damage to the victim and whether or not a weapon was used.

The basics of simple assault

A simple assault charge applies when a person commits one of three acts. First, a simple assault charge may be filed against a person if they attempt to purposefully injure another person. Negligently causing injury to another person also constitutes as simple assault. The final way to commit simply assault is by using physical menace to cause a person to fear an imminent serious bodily injury.

While broken down into three basic acts, simple assault charges encompass a wide array of behaviors. Basically, any unwanted or offensive physical contact could be considered simple assault. Also, the victim does not need to sustain lasting injuries, even temporary pain or discomfort apply. The penalty for simple assault is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Breaking down aggravated assault

New Jersey law defines thirteen circumstances of aggravated assault but there are commonalities between different circumstances. To meet the conditions of aggravated assault, a person must purposefully or recklessly attempt to or cause bodily injury in another person. Acting in a way that manifest extreme indifference to the value of human life is another common factor. Also, many of the circumstances include using a deadly weapon. Specific situations include pointing a firearm at another person, causing injury by a deadly weapon and assault on a law officer or other protected civil servant.

Steeper penalties

The penalties for aggravated assault are more serious ranging from a second to a fourth-degree offense. The most serious charge is second-degree aggravated assault. The penalty is five to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Generally, a person convicted of second-degree aggravated assault is not eligible for parole until after serving 85 percent of their sentence. The penalty for third-degree aggravated assault is three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree aggravated assault, the least severe charge, is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Whether the charge is simple or aggravated the consequences are severe. The factors for each case vary, but partnering with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help lessen or avoid the charges all together.

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Lanza & Lanza LLP
5 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822

Phone: 908-905-0183
Fax: 908-782-4012
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