What’s the difference between simple assault and aggravated assault in New Jersey
Assault Lawyers handling cases in Paterson, New Brunswick, Jersey City, and Elizabeth
Many time clients contact my office to explore the difference between aggravated assault charges and simple assault charges in New Jersey. There is a big difference. Aggravated assault is a felony charge which will be graded as a second degree, third degree, or fourth degree charge depending on the nature and the circumstances of the alleged assault. The degree will depend on the nature of the force used by the defendant, the degree of the injuries to the alleged victim, and whether or not a weapon was involved. In addition, if the alleged victim was a police officer or an emergency services employee, a simple assault can be elevated to aggravated assault based on that status.
A second degree aggravated assault is punishable by 5-10 years in state prison with a presumption of jail time even for first time offenders. A third degree aggravated assault charge is punishable by 3-5 years and a fourth degree aggravated assault charge is punishable by a maximum of 18 months in state prison. On a third or fourth degree charge, if the defendant has no prior criminal history, it is presumed that he or she will be sentenced to probation and not prison. On all aggravated assault offenses, if a defendant is sentenced to prison, he or she must serve 85% of her prison sentence before becoming eligible for parole under the “No Early Release Act” (known as “NERA”).
Simple assault, on the other hand, is a misdemeanor (disorderly persons offense) criminal charge which will be handled in the town court in which you are charged. It is punishable by 6 months in the county jail, a $1,000 fine, potential probation, and a permanent criminal charge on your record if convicted.
If you are not a United States citizen, and you are convicted of either simple assault or aggravated assault, you could be deported. If not, this could effect your immigration status in the future.
For first time offenders, pre-trial intervention (PTI) may be an option for aggravated assault charges. Also, if you are charged with aggravated assault originally, a seasoned criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the county prosecutor’s office to downgrade the charges to simple assault and send them back to the municipal court.
If this is a domestic violence situation and the alleged victim refuses to cooperate and testify against the defendant, the charges may also be dismissed. Unless the State has other witnesses and evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Arrested, Charged with Aggravated Assault in New Jersey – Need a Lawyer
If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault or simple assault in New Jersey and you need a lawyer, call us now at 201-556-1570. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.