What Is the Difference Between Aggravated and Simple Assault in New Jersey?

  • Criminal Defense

Violent altercations are outlawed in New Jersey, and there are strict laws that define and punish such acts. The regulations also classify assault into two categories; simple and aggravated assault. But most people struggle to differentiate the two.

Notably, both categories of offenses have a possibility of leaving a criminal record and earning the perpetrator prolonged periods of incarceration. If you or someone else has been charged with any type of assault, an expert New Jersey criminal law attorney can explain what it means.

Which Offense is More Serious Between Aggravated and Simple Assault?

Simple assault is a minor type of assault and is classified as a disorderly person’s offense in New Jersey. Aggravated assault, on the contrary, is more serious, and is usually charged as a felony. Usually, the seriousness of the injury caused and how it was inflicted determine the charges that could be brought against the alleged offender.

If you cause or attempt to cause bodily injury to someone, the police might arrest you and charge you with simple assault. But if you cause or try to cause serious bodily injury to a person, using a deadly weapon, your offense might be treated as an aggravated form of assault.

How Does Bodily Injury Differ From Serious Bodily Injury?

You don’t want to be in the statistics of accused persons charged with the wrong crimes every day. It would help to know the critical definitions of the offense you have been charged with the help of a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer. For assault charges, a ‘bodily injury’ versus ‘serious bodily injury’ differentiates a simple assault from an aggravated one.

Bodily injury would be characterized by:

  • Any form of pain
  • Impairment of physical condition
  • Illness
  • Physical pain

Serious bodily injury, on the other hand, would be injuries that cause:

  • Impairment or loss of function of a body organ
  • Permanent disfigurement of a body part
  • Serious injuries
  • The risk of death

If your actions didn’t cause any of the above, or if you think that the crime is wrongly categorized, consider speaking to a New Jersey assault attorney.

How Do the Elements of the Two Crimes Differ?

The extent of the injury isn’t the only consideration in an assault case in New Jersey. There are legal elements that the prosecution must prove to charge you with the offense. And the elements for an aggravated assault differ from those of simple assault.

Aggravated assault charges should be accompanied by proof that you:

  • Assaulted a school bus driver, first-aid operator, firefighter, or officer while on duty
  • Recklessly displayed extreme indifference to human life
  • Acted recklessly and caused bodily injury using a deadly weapon
  • Tried to cause serious physical harm with extreme indifference

Simple assault, on the other hand, needs proof showing that you:

  • Tried to put another person in fear of immediate, actual severe bodily harm
  • Caused bodily injuries to someone else out of negligence, using a deadly weapon
  • Caused or tried to cause physical injury to another person

Luckily, you cannot be convicted of either type of assault, unless your actions satisfy all the elements of the specific crime. A seasoned New Jersey assault attorney can challenge the prosecutor’s case if it falls short of the legal threshold.

What Are the Penalties of Aggravated and Simple Assault in NJ?

Despite one being a felony and the other one a misdemeanor, the charges are equally serious. However, it is important to understand the specific consequences of your specific charges to know what is at stake. If it is a simple assault, you might get:

  • Up to six months in confinement
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

The penalties for aggravated assault depend on whether it is a second, third, or fourth-degree crime. Convicts are punished with a maximum of:

  • $10,000 in fines and 18 months in prison for the offense in the fourth degree
  • $15,000 in fines and 3-5 years in confinement for the crime in the third degree
  • $150,000 in fines and 5-10 years in prison for the offense in the second degree

Both crimes could come with additional penalties such as:

What Are the Examples of Simple and Aggravated Assault?

Examples of simple and aggravated assault can help you understand and differentiate the two. Here is what a simple assault might look like:

  • Throwing an object at someone, leaving them with cuts, scratches, or bruises
  • Shoving someone down or against the wall
  • Pulling someone by the air
  • Forcefully grabbing someone’s wrist or arm and twisting it to cause pain
  • Threatening to slap someone and approaching them looking angry and ready to throw a punch

Aggravated assault, on the other hand, could look like this:

  • Assaulting a member of the protected class
  • Threatening violence with concealed identity
  • Attacking someone and leaving them with severe lacerations or broken bones
  • Shooting someone
  • Threatening to shoot a person while pointing a gun at them
  • Striking or threatening to hit someone with a dangerous object or weapon

Note that these above are just a few examples of assault in each category. But an assault can manifest in so many ways in New Jersey. If you have been arrested and charged with simple or aggravated assault, it might be necessary to consult with an experienced New Jersey assault attorney. After listening to your account of events, your lawyer can advise on all aspects of the case.

Learn Your Legal Options with The Help of a Criminal Defense Representative

The defense mode for a simple assault case might differ significantly from the approach in an aggravated assault charge. This is mainly because the definition and several other aspects of the two are pretty different. And every accused person needs an attorney that understands all these aspects of the law and can apply it practically.

Our attorneys know that there is no substitute for training and experience. They are well aware that your professional and personal life are at stake when you are charged with either type of assault. Speak to us today, and we will do what we do best to fight for your freedom in New Jersey.

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