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Handshakes don't cut it if a quarrel leads to an assault charge

Back in the day, the rules of etiquette required that if you got into a fight in the schoolyard and a teacher broke things up, you would shake hands with your rival. An apology might even be called for. Does that ever happen anymore?

These days in New Jersey and elsewhere, there are new rules of engagement at school and out in public. Getting into a fight, even one that doesn't end in anyone getting hurt, could easily result in arrests and someone being charged with a crime. Whether it's the seemingly innocuous charge of simple assault or a more serious allegation of aggravated assault, you should be prepared to fight again – to protect your rights.

All it may take for you to be accused of simple assault after an altercation is the suspicion that you "attempted" to hurt someone. Maybe you didn't intend to cause harm or act recklessly. But that's not what the law requires prosecutors to prove. They only have to show that you tried to hurt someone or just tried to make them fear the possibility.

Another element that can come into play in a simple assault charge is negligence. The nuance in this situation is that a deadly weapon must be involved. If no such weapon is present, conviction for simple assault should not happen. However, if you did possess a deadly weapon at the time of the dispute and someone merely alleges they were in imminent fear of being injured, conviction could be possible. Penalties can include fines and incarceration.

Whether you are charged with a criminal or lesser municipal offense, take it seriously. Visiting the criminal defense section of our website is one good step. Whatever you do, though, contact an experienced attorney.

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