Simple Assault Vs. Aggravated Assault Offenses


There can be serious legal consequences for getting into a fight or attempting to strike another person in New Jersey. Assault is classified as a crime of violence, and a conviction for assault can interfere with your employment or your acceptance into certain schools, among other serious consequences. The following provides a better understanding of New Jersey assault law, examining both simple and aggravated assault charges and the critical differences between these offenses. It also outlines the facts that a prosecutor will have to prove to convict you of either type of assault, highlights the penalties associated with an assault conviction, and discusses the potential for entry of a restraining order in your assault case. For additional information and to speak with an experienced Hudson County Assault Defense Lawyer, call (201) 793-8018 today. We provide free consultations.

Simple Assault Vs. Aggravated Assault Charges in Hudson County, NJ

New Jersey law breaks down the crime of assault into two categories: simple assault and aggravated assault. The state assault statute, NJSA 2C:12-1, defines assault in four ways. First, simple assault can be an attempt to cause bodily injury to another person. Second, simple assault can be the act of purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person. Third, you can be convicted of simple assault if you negligently cause bodily injury to someone else with a deadly weapon (a deadly weapon is any object that can kill or cause death, from a knife to a gun to a rock, or even the fists or feet of certain individuals, depending on the circumstances). Fourth, simple assault can also be an attempt to physically menace, or frighten, another person with the threat of imminent and serious bodily injury.

A prosecutor may charge you with aggravated assault if you commit actions more serious than those described above. You may be convicted of aggravated assault if you attempt to or cause serious bodily injury to another person purposely, knowingly, or in a way that demonstrates that you acted recklessly and with extreme indifference to the value of human life. You may also be convicted if you attempt to cause or purposefully or knowingly cause bodily injury to someone else with a deadly weapon, recklessly cause bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon, or point a firearm at another person. You may further be charged with aggravated assault if you commit simple assault against certain categories of persons, including judges, policemen, firemen, bus drivers, and a number of other persons.

Punishments for Aggravated & Simple Assault Crimes in NJ

Simple assault can be charged as a disorderly persons offense (similar to misdemeanors in other states) or a petty disorderly offense if it involved a fight or scuffle between two people who mutually consented to engage in the altercation with each other. A simple assault conviction can result in a fine of over $1,000 for a disorderly persons offense or $500 for a petty disorderly persons offense. You may also be ordered to provide restitution to the victim of the assault. A simple assault conviction can lead to a six month prison term.

The penalties for aggravated assault are more severe than those for simple assault. Aggravated assault can be charged as a second, third, or fourth degree indictable offense (similar to felony offenses in states outside New Jersey). Penalties for aggravated assault can include thousands of dollars of fines, years of prison time, mandatory victim restitution payments, and other serious consequences.

Legal Process for Simple Vs. Aggravated Assault Prosecution

If you are charged with an indictable offense like aggravated assault, your case will be heard in a Superior Court in the county where you are alleged to have committed the crime. If you are charged with simple assault—as a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense—your case will be heard in a lower-level municipal court in the city or town where you were arrested. The plea bargain that you offered will differ significantly based upon whether you are charged with simple or aggravated assault.

Facing a Restraining Order for Simple or Aggravated Assault

An alleged victim may seek a restraining order against you if you are charged with or arrested for assaulting them. This can be done at a local police station or through a number of other state agencies. A temporary restraining order may potentially be entered based solely on your arrest; this order may direct you to avoid communicating with or coming near the victim or their friends or family, and a hearing to determine whether a final restraining order should be issued will be held within about ten days of the temporary order’s entry.

Contact Jersey City Assault Lawyer for Help With Aggravated or Simple Assault Charges

You should consult a qualified criminal defense attorney if you are charged with either simple or aggravated assault in New Jersey. Our highly skilled Hudson County Assault Lawyers regularly defend clients charged with assault crimes in Hoboken, Kearny, Union City, Weehawken, Bayonne, and surrounding communities. If you have been accused of assault, contact us at (201) 793-8018 or send us a message for a free consultation.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.