Old Bridge Township Attorneys for Clients Facing Simple & Aggravated Assault Charges
Have you been charged with assault in Old Bridge, New Jersey? Despite what you might have thought, a simple assault charge carries as much as 6 months in Middlesex County Jail and for aggravated assault, the maximum penal exposure is 10 years in state prison depending on the specific degree of the charges. Anyone charged with either of these offenses must attend Old Bridge Township Municipal Court, which handles disorderly persons offenses, or Middlesex County Superior Court, where felony cases are heard. Because the consequences of a conviction can be severe in an assault case, or any criminal case for that matter, you have a constitutional right to an attorney. Take advantage of this right and call us today. You can obtain a free consultation with our local defense lawyers by contacting us online or calling (732) 659-9600 now. A member of our team is available around the clock to answer your questions.
Simple Assault Charges in Old Bridge, New Jersey
The law classifies criminal offenses as disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes. People commonly refer to these offenses as misdemeanors and felonies, respectively. In New Jersey, simple assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) is a disorderly persons offense. Most disorderly persons offenses of simple assault (unless there is a companion felony charge) are heard in Old Bridge Municipal Court. And for these offenses, the law authorizes a jail sentence of up to 6 months, $1,000 in fines, probation with conditions, restitution, and mandatory fees and penalties. As with any criminal case, the state has to prove that you committed simple assault in order to garner a conviction.
So what is simple assault? Simply put, to be guilty of this offense, it must be proven that you: 1) intentionally or recklessly hurt someone causing them bodily injury, 2) injured someone negligently with a weapon, or 3) instilled fear in someone who believed that they would be immediately injured by you. The bodily injury sustained need not be serious and only requires the state to prove that the victim suffered some form of pain or discomfort. Attempts at inflicting injury can also be subject to simple assault charges.
In some cases, you can be charged with a petty disorderly persons offense of mutual fighting when the assault occurred during a fight that you and another voluntarily entered into. For this offense, the lowest of all criminal offenses, you face jail for up to 30 days and can be ordered to pay $500 in fines, as well as court costs and fees. This offense, much like simple assault, is one that occurs often, as the injuries are minimal.
Prohibited acts in simple assault cases can include punching, slapping, kicking, scratching, throwing objects, pushing or shoving, pulling hair, and any other similar conduct. However, if the conduct escalates or the injury sustained is serious, the charge will be upgraded to an indictable felony crime of aggravated assault.
Arrested for Aggravated Assault in Old Bridge NJ
Aggravated assault is an indictable crime of the second, third, or fourth degree. This portion of the statute begins in section N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b). Each indictable crime allows for state prison terms to be imposed upon conviction. Second degree crimes are the most serious offenses for those charged with aggravated assault, as the minimum time under the sentencing guidelines is five years, with a maximum of ten. In some cases, those convicted will be forced to serve 85% of the sentence imposed before they are eligible for release on parole. If you have the advantage of being charged with a 3rd or 4th degree assault over a second degree, there is a chance that you can avoid jail if you have no criminal history. Nonetheless, a conviction for a third degree crime allows for a prison term of between 3 and 5 years; and there is a maximum prison term of 18 months in cases involving fourth degree assaults.
Overall, the dividing line between simple assault and aggravated assault is usually either 1) the nature of the injury, or 2) the standing of the victim. As to the nature of the injury, say for example that you are fighting with someone and you hit them with a broken beer bottle causing a loss of consciousness, a cracked skull, and stitches. The injuries will undoubtedly qualify as serious. Clearly, there is a difference between “bodily injury” in simple assault cases and “serious bodily injury” in aggravated assault cases.
More specifically, under the aggravated assault provision, a person may be charged with the crime if it is alleged that he or she:
- Causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury intentionally or without regard for another’s life;
- Causes or attempts such an injury with a weapon considered deadly;
- Causes bodily injury recklessly with deadly weapon;
- Points a firearm in the direction of someone; or
- Causes bodily injury (simple assault) to any person within a certain class, namely law enforcement, firemen, teachers, bus drivers, judges, social workers, emergency service personnel or school board members to name a few.
Under the second provision of aggravated assault, you can be charged with a third degree crime if you commit simple assault upon any of these protected parties. The nature of the injury is not necessarily serious and it need only be established that you caused some injury, however minimal, to someone such as an officer, fireman, teacher, etc. Therefore, a scratch, a black and blue, or even a stinging sensation or general discomfort suffered by the protected party suffices when establishing “injury.”
For aggravated assault cases, the matter will be heard in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick. After the charges are filed, you can be held pending review of your Public Safety Assessment (PSA) by the Court and detention (bail) hearing. If the court finds that you are at risk of not appearing when directed, a danger to the pubic, or at risk of committing a new offense, the court can hold you without bail until your case is complete.
Charged with Assault in Old Bridge, Need a Lawyer
While facing Old Bridge assault charges seems to be all doom and gloom, there are things we can do to help. Our attorneys have more than a decade of time spent defending clients charged with simple assault and aggravated assault in Middlesex County towns and across New Jersey, and we have real-time experience handling cases in local courts. Depending on your situation, we can seek a downgrade of the charges, PTI (pursues dismissal), file motions to negate evidence, negotiate with the prosecutor, or simply litigate the case before the court or a jury. When seeking the best result, you can expect us to carefully review all of the information and develop a strategic approach that is right for you. Contact us today at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation about your assault case.