At some point in your life, you may find yourself in a volatile situation that escalates quickly and the next thing you know, you’re facing an assault charge. There are many legitimate defenses to assault. You may have been defending yourself, defending someone else, or your actions may have been necessary to prevent additional harm.
Many people do not realize that a charge of assault does not require physical contact with the victim, but rather, assault involves placing the victim in fear of imminent offensive or harmful contact. Once physical contact occurs, the crime becomes a battery. For this reason, assault is often called an attempted battery.
Simple and aggravated assault
There are three different types of assault in New Jersey. Simple assault involves attempting to cause bodily injury to another, negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon or putting another person fear of imminent serious bodily injury. A brawl between two people or lunging toward someone in a threatening manner could result in a simple assault charge.
In contrast, aggravated assault involves attempting to cause serious bodily injury with extreme indifference, recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon or recklessly displaying an extreme indifference to human life.
An assault charge may automatically be classified as aggravated assault depending on the victim’s identity. An assault on a police officer, firefighter, school bus driver, emergency medical personnel, or other individuals specifically classified under the assault statute while in the performance of their duties automatically deems the charge aggravated assault.
Assault by auto
The third type of assault charge is assault by an auto. This occurs when someone recklessly drives a vehicle and causes a victim serious bodily injury.
Something as simple as holding a telephone while driving could meet the definition of “reckless” driving under the law. Driving while intoxicated is also typically considered reckless driving. The degree charged in an assault by auto case depends on the specific injuries sustained by the victim.
All assault charges come in varying degrees depending on the specific circumstances and a wide range of penalties. Having a strong and knowledgeable attorney available to analyze the situation and prepare a defense can mean the difference between a conviction or dismissal.