Causing physical harm to someone else may result in a criminal conviction in the state of New Jersey. Under N.J.S.A. Sec. 2C:12-1a(1), a simple assault requires:
- Knowingly causing bodily harm to another person or attempting to cause harm to another person; or
- Attempting to intimidate another person by putting them in imminent fear of serious bodily injury.
Under New Jersey law, aggravated assault requires a simple assault with an aggravating factor. Some examples of aggravated assault, as cited in the statute, include:
- Using a deadly weapon to attempt to cause bodily injury or knowingly cause bodily injury.
- Committing simple assault on a law enforcement officer, teacher, etc.
- Pointing a firearm at someone, even if the actor does not think the gun is loaded.
A simple assault charge can result in up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail, while an aggravated assault charge can result in up to 10 years in prison and up to $150,000, depending on the degree of the charge.
Defending against assault charges
If you have been charged with assault or another violent crime, a criminal defense strategy can help you get your charges reduced. One common defense strategy in assault cases is arguing that you were acting in self-defense.
In New Jersey, you are generally allowed to defend yourself using force if you reasonably believe that you or someone else is at immediate risk of being injured. However, there are a few exceptions to this self-defense rule. For example, if you use deadly force when you provoked the assault with the intent to injure the other party, self-defense may not apply.