Assault and Fighting Offenses
Have you been indicted or charged with assault or fighting offenses in Point Pleasant Beach? The definition of assault includes many different types of actions, such as bar fights, pointing a gun at someone (whether it’s loaded or not), hitting a police officer, or even just threatening to hurt someone. Depending on the specifics of your situation, charges for assault or fighting in public can carry penalties ranging from fines and jail sentences of 30 days or less for minor offenses, all the way up to 10 years in prison for more serious crimes.
If you’ve been charged with any type of assault crime, I urge you to seek legal advice immediately from a Point Pleasant Beach Assault & Fighting Lawyer. My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, and I am a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney with more than 35 years of criminal and municipal court experience. Contact me today for a free initial consultation through the email form on this website or at 1-866-664-8118, and I will carefully go through the facts of your case to make sure that all possible defenses are raised on your behalf. As a Point Pleasant Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer, I defend all types of assault charges and I know what it takes to successfully defend your case.
Understanding The Legal Language
In New Jersey, assault crimes are defined as either simple assaults or aggravated assaults per New Jersey statute 2C:12-1. But before reading about what constitutes simple and aggravated assaults, take a moment to review some of the legal language used to describe assault crimes. It should help shed some light on what actions are necessary in order to be guilty of different assault charges.
- Assault vs. battery. Most people are familiar with the term “assault and battery,” but they might not know that these are separate offenses. To commit an assault you don’t need to physically hurt anyone; it’s enough to put someone in fear of imminent injury. Battery, on the other hand, refers to the unwanted touching or striking of another person.
- Attempt. The word “attempt” refers to trying to commit a crime, regardless of whether you actually complete the offense.
- Levels of intent. In New Jersey, a person can’t be convicted of a criminal offense unless he committed the crime with the proper intent or state of mind. Take murder and manslaughter, for example. In order to be guilty of murder, a person has to kill someone purposely, but to be convicted of the less serious offense of involuntary manslaughter, a person only has to kill someone while acting negligently. There are four basic levels of criminal intent:
- Purposely. A person acts purposely if he has the conscious goal to commit an act or create a particular result from that act.
- Knowingly. A person acts knowingly if he understands the nature of his actions or the considerable probability that a particular result will occur.
- Recklessly. A person acts recklessly if he is aware of the risk involved in his act and the harm that will probably occur, but he consciously disregards that risk.
- Negligently. A person acts negligently if he ignores a large and inexcusable risk that harm will occur as a result of his actions.
- Bodily injury vs. significant bodily injury vs. serious bodily injury. “Bodily injury” is defined as physical pain, sickness, or any harm to a person’s physical condition. “Significant bodily injury” is more serious and means an injury that creates a short-term loss of the function of any body part or organ, or any of the five senses. “Serious bodily injuries” are the worst injuries and are those that create a risk of death or that cause permanent disfigurement or harm to a person’s bodily functions.
- Deadly weapon. A “deadly weapon” is a weapon that can be used to kill someone or cause serious bodily injury. This includes firearms, as well as other devices, instruments, materials, or substances (whether animate or inanimate). Even if a weapon can’t actually be used to kill someone or cause serious bodily injury-as with an unloaded gun, for example-it will still be considered “deadly” if the victim reasonably believed it could be used for that purpose.
Point Pleasant Beach Simple Assault
Under New Jersey Law, there are three general ways that a person can commit a simple assault.
- if he attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person; or
- if he negligently causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon; or
- if he attempts by physical danger to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
The penalties for a conviction of simple assault depend on the circumstances, but in general, a simple assault is classified as a disorderly persons offense and carries penalties of up to six months in prison and $1,000 in fines.
In some circumstances, however, the penalties for simple assault may be either reduced or increased:
- If the assault occurred during a consensual fight, the offense will be reduced to a petty disorderly persons offense and will be punishable by up to 30 days in prison,
- If the assault was against a public official, such as a police officer, the offense will be upgraded to a fourth degree crime and will carry a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.
- An assault can even be upgraded to a third degree offense, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison, if the assault was against a public official and it resulted in bodily injury.
Point Pleasant Beach Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is a more serious crime than simple assault, and depending on the circumstances of the incident, it can be a second, third, or fourth degree crime. Under New Jersey law, a person is guilty of the following charges for aggravated assault if he’ commits any of the acts listed below:
- Fourth degree crime – up to 18 months in prison
- Recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life ,points a firearm at or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded; or
- Commits a simple assault upon any law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties.
- Third degree crime – 3 to 5 years in prison
- Attempts to cause, or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Attempts to cause significant bodily injury to another or causes significant bodily injury purposely or knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly causes such significant bodily injury; or
- Causes bodily injury by knowingly or purposely starting a fire or causing an explosion; or
- Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, points or displays a firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer; or
- Commits a simple assault and causes bodily injury upon any law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties.
- Second degree crime – 5 to 10 years in prison
- Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, or recklessly causes such injury; or
- Causes bodily injury to another person while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer or while operating a motor vehicle; or
- Causes serious bodily injury by knowingly or purposely starting a fire or causing an explosion.
In addition to the penalties above, the No Early Release Act is applied in aggravated assault cases. Under this law, any person convicted of aggravated assault must serve 85% of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. For example, if you are sentenced to 10 years in prison, you must serve 8.5 years (85% of 10 years) before becoming eligible for parole.
Legal Defense Strategies
There are several defenses that may be successfully used on your behalf if you’ve been charged with a simple or aggravated assault. Common defenses include asserting that the fight was consensual or that the accused was acting in self defense when he committed the crime. However, there are limits to these defenses. For example, neither of these defenses will apply if the accused caused bodily injury to a defenseless person. Similarly, if the accused was engaged in a consensual fight, the defenses won’t apply if he continued to hurt the other fighter after that person was already backing down.
What You Can Do
If you’ve been charged with assault or fighting in public, the best way to find out what defenses are available to you is to consult with a knowledgeable Point Pleasant Beach lawyer. My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, Ocean County Criminal Defense Attorney, and you can contact me today for a free initial consultation toll free at 1-866-664-8118. I defend all types of assault charges as a Point Pleasant Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer, and as a former prosecutor with more than 35 years of experience, I have strong reputation among other lawyers and attorneys and I know exactly what it takes to successfully defend your case. I have obtained countless downgraded or dismissed charges when defending clients charged with assault, and I can help you too.
The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo is a criminal defense law firm that represents individuals throughout New Jersey, including Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County and Union County.