Assault and Harassment
In New Jersey, there are 20 distinct acts that may constitute “assault” under the law. A broad classification of offenses, assault can include any of the following: simple assault, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a law enforcement officer, reckless endangerment, stalking, and harassment. The severity of these crimes is highly variable, contingent upon a number of influential factors, including the extent of the injuries sustained by the victim; the intent of the actor, the presence or use of a weapon during the commission of the offense; and the identity of the alleged victim. For instance, certain offenses that may otherwise be considered “simple assault” are elevated to more serious charges for aggravated assault if the victim is a law enforcement officer, public servant, judge, or another individual operating in an official capacity. Depending upon the nature of the assault offense, a conviction can result in heavy fines, mandatory anger management counseling, a lengthy period of incarceration, and a substantial period of parole ineligibility.
If you have been accused of or charged with any of type of assault offense, it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An immediate investigation can significantly improve your defense strategy, allowing you to gather and preserve relevant evidence and to secure the cooperation of corroborating witnesses. Attorney Tara Breslow has extensive experience investigating and successfully defending assault cases for clients in courts across Monmouth County. She will immediately begin an investigation of your case, inform you of the strengths and weaknesses, explain all of your available options, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. To discuss your current situation with Ms. Breslow free of charge, contact her Monmouth County offices for a free consultation.Assault Lawyer in Freehold NJ
The various offenses subsumed within the category of “assault” are outlined in section N.J.S. 2C:12-1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. The two primary classifications within “assault crimes” are simple assaults and aggravated assaults. As mentioned previously, the circumstances of the specific case will determine the degree of the charges, and thus, the potential penalties to which you are exposed as a defendant. In general, aggravated assaults are considered indictable felonies, meaning that they are adjudicated at the Superior Court in the county in which the alleged offense occurred and may result in a New Jersey State Prison sentence. Simple assaults, on the other hand, are classified as either disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, which are heard and decided at the local Municipal Court and may result in a sentence to be served in the county jail.New Jersey Assault Crimes and Types of Injury
One of the largest determinants of the type and degree of an assault charge is the extent of the injuries sustained by the victim. New Jersey distinguishes among three levels of injury, defined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. The three levels of injury, which are relevant to all assault cases include:
- Bodily injury: means physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition;
- Serious bodily injury: means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; and
- Significant bodily injury: means bodily injury which creates a temporary loss of the function of any bodily member or organ or temporary loss of any one of the five senses.
A simple assault can occur when the actor: (1) causes bodily injury; (2) attempts to cause bodily injury; or (3) places the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Conversely, aggravated assault occurs when the actor causes or attempts to cause serious or significant bodily injury. Obviously, attempts to cause serious bodily injury can manifest in an array of conduct and may or may not involve a deadly weapon, fire, explosives, or reckless behavior while attempting to elude law enforcement. As mentioned previously, one exception to this rule involves simple assaults committed against public servants and officials. In these cases, the identity of the victim increases the severity of the crime, regardless of the extent of the injury.Degrees of Assault Crimes in New Jersey
Assault crimes can run the gamut from relatively lower-level disorderly persons offenses to increasingly severe second degree felonies. The following is an outline of the varying degrees of assault crimes in New Jersey and the sentencing ranges associated with each.
- Typical Simple Assault – Disorderly Persons Offense: punishable by a sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000
- Simple Assault Involving a Mutual Fight or Scuffle – Petty Disorderly Persons Offense: punishable by a sentence to serve up to 90 days in the county jail and a maximum fine of $500
- Aggravated Assault as a Fourth Degree Crime: punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
- Aggravated Assault as a Third Degree Crime: punishable by a sentence to serve between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $15,000. There is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders, meaning that a defendant may avoid incarceration through enrollment in a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention.
- Aggravated Assault as a Second Degree Crime: punishable by a sentence to serve between 5 and 10 years in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $150,000. These crimes entail a presumption of incarceration, meaning that even first-time offenders must serve time in prison. Further, in some cases, New Jersey’s No Early Release Act applies, requiring those convicted to complete 85% of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole.
If you or someone you love has been charged with an assault or threat crime such as simple assault, terroristic threats, or harassment, contact the Law Offices of Tara Breslow for a free initial consultation. Ms. Breslow regularly represents clients in Freehold, Middletown, Red Bank, Holmdel, and throughout Monmouth County. Contact her today to begin formulating your best defense.