Aggravated Assault vs Simple Assault

“Assault” is a generic legal term for crimes involving an aspect of physical violence or the threat of physical violence. New Jersey statutes carry two distinct definitions of assault: aggravated assault and simple assault. These two charges can vary dramatically from second-degree felony crimes to disorderly persons offenses. Today, our Union County Municipal Court criminal defense attorney will examine the differences between aggravated assault and simple assault, the resulting charges, and the penalties for a conviction in New Jersey.

If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated assault or simple assault, call our office today for a confidential consultation with a member of our qualified legal team.

Union County, NJ Assault Defense Attorney Distinguishes Between Aggravated and Simple Assault

As per New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:12-1 – Assault, there are a few key differences between aggravated assault and simple assault. Some of these factors include:

  • Intent – simple assault is most associated with causing injury to another person through negligence or recklessness, whereas aggravated assault charges are generally the result of the conscious and intentional choice to inflict harm upon another person
  • Degree of Injury Sustained – actions causing “serious bodily injury” are generally considered aggravated assault. This can be a grey area, as simple assault cases where a victim claims “serious” injuries can be bumped to aggravated assault and vice versa
  • Threat vs. Action – the act of threatening or intimidating a victim is generally considered simple assault with a few exceptions including threatening an individual with a firearm
  • Identity of the Victim – most types of assault against a law enforcement officer, first responder, school employee, and other public servants, are generally considered acts of aggravated assault even if the actions would otherwise fall under simple assault guidelines

Westfield Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Charges and Penalties for Simple Assault

Simple assault charges are considered disorderly persons offenses, which are more akin to misdemeanors but will still show up on an individual’s criminal record. It is also important to understand that for first time offenders, all assault charges which are of a third-degree or lower carry a “presumption of non-incarceration”. Meaning that if you have no previous criminal record, you can reasonably expect to avoid serving prison or jail time.

Simple Assault Disorderly Persons Convictions may include the following penalties:

  • Up to six (6) months in county jail with a presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders
  • Fines ranging up to $1,000
  • Stain on permanent criminal record

Elizabeth Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer Identifies Charges and Penalties

Aggravated assault charges are considered felonies in New Jersey which can range from fourth to second-degree crimes. As a violent crime, aggravated assault also falls under the New Jersey No Early Release Act, which prevents early parole for violent criminals until they have served a minimum of 85% of their sentenced prison term.

Fourth Degree Aggravated Assault Convictions can carry penalties including:

  • Maximum sentence of 18 months in state prison with a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Felony on permanent criminal record

Third Degree Aggravated Assault Convictions may include the following penalties:

  • Between three (3) and five (5) years in state prison with a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders
  • Maximum fines of $15,000
  • Felony on permanent criminal record

Second Degree Aggravated Assault Convictions can carry penalties including:

  • Sentences between five (5) and ten (10) years in state prison with a presumption of incarceration
  • Fines ranging up to $150,000
  • Felony mark on criminal record

Contact a Linden Criminal Defense Attorney Today

At The Law Offices of Edward S. Cooper, Esq., we believe that all manner of criminal charges are potentially life-altering. Our firm, therefore, treats all clients equally seriously when they face either disorderly persons charges for simple assault or second-degree felony charges for aggravated assault. Attorney Cooper has built a reputation as a stalwart criminal defense attorney in local New Jersey communities including Westfield, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Union, Scotch Plains, Linden, and all of Union County. If you or a loved one faces criminal charges, you do not need to fight this legal battle alone.

Contact us online or call our Linden offices by dialing (908) 481-4625 today to speak with a member of our qualified legal staff regarding your recent charges and to learn more about how we may be able to best serve your needs.