What is Battery in New Jersey?


What Does the Crime Battery Mean in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, physical harm or a threat of physical harm is considered an assault.  Other states may refer to assault as “battery” or “assault and battery.” While there may be slight variations between the two, essentially any harm done to another person is considered an assault offense in this state.  If you are convicted of an assaultive crime in New Jersey, you can expect to be penalized by the court in which your matter is adjudicated. Depending on the specific crime charged and its degree, your case may be heard in the Municipal Court associated with the municipality where the charges were filed, or the Superior Court in the County that encompasses the municipality.  The distinct punishments for an assault are based on the specific actions and intentions of the accused, as well as the harm sustained by the alleged victim.

When you are facing an assault charge, a criminal attorney with experience fighting assault cases can differentiate between what is alleged to have happened and the reality of the situation.  This minor distinction can have major impacts on your life.  It can mean the difference between going to county jail versus being shipped off to state prison, or even the difference between obtaining a dismissal or that of a future prematurely tainted with a criminal conviction.

To speak with a dedicated criminal lawyer defending clients charged with assault in Middlesex County, contact our local Edison office at (732) 659-9600 now. Consultations are always provided at no cost to you.

Are There Different Levels of Assault Crimes in Middlesex County NJ?

All assaults (otherwise known as batteries) involve harm or potential harm against another person.  The law recognizes that there are varying degrees of harm that can befall or potentially befall a person at the hands of another. Some harm may be caused as a result of the person’s own conduct, while others may be caused without any fault at all.

Harm in assault cases is called “bodily injury.” Bodily injury is a relative term, but it can be something clearly defined by science or medical certainty. For example, if you are arguing with a significant other and flick him in the face, he may say it hurt in some way, such as a stinging sensation.  A minor “bodily injury” is set forth by the person who was allegedly harmed.  No proof as to the reality of the “injury” is needed except the testimony of the person harmed.  This is considered a simple assault because the harm is not serious or significant but may still be alleged.

For an aggravated assault, the allegation against you includes causing more serious injuries than that of a simple assault.  If you knock someone to the ground, punch them in the face, and then stomp on their neck causing neck or spinal damage, you will most likely be charged with aggravated assault. Under this provision, the injuries must be “serious” or “significant.” It is important to note that there are other sections of the statute that do not require actual injuries and those that involve deadly weapons, which can still lead to arrests and accompanying assault charges.

Types of Injuries for NJ Assault and Battery Charges

Here, we will focus on those instances in which an injury has been alleged. The injuries in accordance with N.J.S.A  2C:11-1 are as follows:

  • Bodily injury: generalized pain, impairment, or infirmary;
  • Serious bodily injury: any injury that causes a risk of death, extended loss of any function of the body, organ, or member, or disfigurement that is permanent.
  • Significant bodily injury: a temporary loss of any of the five senses (taste, smell, hearing, sight, touch) or a short term loss of the function of any organ or member.

In the aforementioned example, stomping on someone and causing nerve damage will be considered serious bodily injury if there is an extensive loss or use of any bodily function or organ. If the victim cannot walk as a result of the defendant’s acts, it will be considered a serious injury.  However, if the victim loses consciousness or cannot “feel” temporarily due to the nerve damage, then the injury is likely significant. Even a minor assault against a public officer of some kind will lead to aggravated assault charges.

Are there Defenses in Criminal Battery Cases?

Many times, the state charges you with a more serious offense of aggravated assault without proof of the injury or actions alleged. The charge may be based on how the offense sounds when the facts are repeated aloud. For instance, when you read the example of knocking someone out, punching them, and stomping on them, you probably had a visceral reaction that made you think it was an aggravated assault. But the reality is that often, cases presented by the prosecutor are all smoke and mirrors designed to obtain a conviction. As dedicated criminal defense lawyers, we care about your rights and fighting for justice.

We will review the medical records against the claims made by the state and the victim and compare it against the law.  In doing so, we may uncover falsehoods or the real underlying issues.  For instance, if the medical records show that the person had nerve damage previously and had been seeing a doctor on a monthly basis and that no new harm was inflicted, the state has no case as it relates to aggravated assault. Simply because the facts sound detrimental does not mean the case will lead to a conviction. You are entitled to the most thorough, comprehensive, and compelling defense.

How Bad Is an Assault Charge in New Brunswick NJ?

Assaults are charged as either disorderly persons offenses, which are akin to misdemeanors, or felony offenses of the fourth degree, third degree, or second degree. Fourth degree is the lesser of the felonies and second degree is for the most serious forms of aggravated assault. Further, the sentencing difference between an aggravated assault and simple assault can be life changing.

For simple assault, a disorderly persons offense, you can be sentenced to 6 months in the county jail.  As the allegations become more serious, so too does the degree of the offense. The jail sentence climbs along with the degree of the crime.

When it comes to assault charges, second degree crimes are punished by prison for no less than 5 years and as much as 10. In some cases, you will also be forced to stay in jail until you complete 85% of your sentence. For a third degree assault offense, the number of potential years of imprisonment is less (3 to 5 years), and you may even receive probation. Such is the case for fourth degree charges as well, where your exposure is up to 18 months of incarceration. These offenses also carry mandatory penalties and discretionary fines, specifically as much as $10,000 for a 4th degree, $15,000 for a 3rd degree, and $150,000 for a 2nd degree.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Assault Charge Near Edison NJ?

Have you been accused of assault and battery? Do not take these allegations lightly. Prepare yourself by speaking with the right criminal defense lawyer. When the degree of the crime and whether the state can prove it makes the difference between going home or growing old behind bars, you need someone who knows the law and the factual nuances that can turn the tide of your case. William Proetta and our distinguished defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law have the experience to review your case for factual discrepancies, find possible defense options, and diligently represent you through the road ahead. For help defending against an assault charge in Edison, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, Carteret, Plainsboro, and throughout Middlesex County, call (732) 659-9600 today. Free consultations are at your disposal 24/7.

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.