You hate to admit it. You lost your temper, and you’re now in trouble. However, assault charges aren’t the kind of thing that disappears with an acknowledgment. For that matter, apologies don’t normally suffice. So, what penalties do you face for assault charges?
First, you should know that New Jersey law classifies assault into a couple of categories. Both simple assault and aggravated assault are defined in NJSA 2C:12-1. The specifics concerning simple assault make it a lesser offense than aggravated assault.
One major difference between the two types of assault charges concerns the court where your case is heard. For simple assault, you appear in the local municipal court where the charges originated. If the judge finds you guilty, you’ll be convicted of either a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense.
Simple v. Aggravated Assault Charges
Not sure what constitutes the differences in assault charges? Imagine you’re out with your special girl at a local Elizabeth bar. As you walk back from the men’s room, you find some guy with his arm around your lady. She looks mortified and scared.
You can’t help yourself, and you pull the man away and punch him in the mouth. For a moment, you’re actually happy to see blood gushing out and wonder if you knocked out any teeth.
While you obviously feel justified in your actions, the police come to the scene and arrest you. You’re charged with simple assault.
Could it have been worse? Absolutely. What if you lost it so much that you plummeted the disrespectful man to the ground? If he was knocked unconscious, there’s a large chance you’d be facing aggravated assault charges.
Your charges then move to Superior Court, where you find yourself indicted for a serious crime. You absolutely need to make sure you have experienced criminal defense counsel.
While other factors matter when it comes to differentiating simple and aggravated assault charges, the degree of harm matters. You face more significant penalties for crimes that result in serious bodily injury.
Penalties for Assault Charges
New Jersey is not one of the states that break down crimes into misdemeanor and felony categories. However, if it were, disorderly persons offenses would be classified as misdemeanors.
You might be under the misimpression that you can’t go to jail for something that sounds so “simple.” Unfortunately, your impressions are wrong. In fact, the municipal court judge can sentence you behind bars for up to six months.
However, what if the altercation represented more of a scuffle and the injuries were minor? Then, the most you would find yourself in jail is thirty days. And, yes, that’s thirty days too many.
As you might guess, it’s not just jail, fines and court costs that should suggest concern. What impact will even a seemingly minor conviction have on your record? Will it affect your job opportunities? Could you face restraining orders if the charges involve domestic violence?
Aggravated Assault Penalties
If your charges elevate to aggravated assault, you face the equivalent of a felony conviction. Depending on the level of your crime, you could find yourself behind bars for up to twenty years.
When the court views you as intentionally causing someone else serious bodily harm, the consequences can be life-changing. As if the loss of your freedom is not enough, you could also pay up to $150,000 in fines.