Simple Assault

New Jersey Simple Assault Lawyer

NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer Defending Simple Assault Charges

Have you been charged or indicted with simple assault in New Jersey?

Did a rowdy night with your friends end up in a fight? Or maybe you resisted an arrest you believed was unlawful and now you’ve been charged with assault? My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, partner at The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo, an aggressive New Jersey criminal defense lawyer with over 35 years of experience. If you’ve been accused of simple or aggravated assault you will need to find an experienced and skilled attorney to fight for your rights.

I know what you are going through and I can help. As a former prosecutor, I know what it takes to successfully defend your case, I know how to negotiate with prosecutors for lesser charges or dismissals. I have obtained countless downgraded or dismissed charges when defending clients charged with assault. Our firm defends individuals throughout New Jersey including the counties of Somerset, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, and the communities of Elizabeth, Middletown, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Jackson, Lakewood, and Point Pleasant.

Contact me today for a free initial consultation, and let’s see how I can defend your case. There are several different kinds of assault charges in New Jersey including simple assault, aggravated assault, domestic assault, and assault by auto. This page attempts to provide an explanation of the laws of simple assault, attaching penalties, and answers to many common questions.

Simple Assault in New Jersey

Under New Jersey Law, there are three general ways a person can commit a simple assault. A person will be guilty of simple assault if he commits any one of the following acts:

  • Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person; or
  • Negligently causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon; or
  • Attempts by physical danger to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

Understanding the Legal Language

Unsure if you have committed an assault? Let’s take a closer look at some of the language used in the statute above. It should help shed some light on what actions are necessary in order to be guilty of simple assault.


The word ‘attempts’ is used to show that all you have to do is try to commit the crime. Your action does not have to be purposeful or reckless in order for you to be guilty. It is enough if you attempt to cause someone bodily injury or imminent fear of such.


The word ‘recklessly’ means that you acted recklessly in that you took a huge risk that the injuries would occur. You don’t have to act purposely to be guilty, acting recklessly is enough. In order for you to act recklessly, your actions must grossly deviate from what would be reasonable under the circumstances. An experienced assault attorney may choose to defend your case by showing that your actions did not grossly deviate from reasonable conduct under the circumstances. This is one of the many ways a lawyer can defend your case.


Acting ‘negligently’ is similar to acting ‘recklessly’ only not quite as bad. That is why in order to be guilty of assault when your actions were merely negligent, you must possess a deadly weapon when you commit the act. If you acted negligently in committing an assault, but you did not have a deadly weapon, then you cannot be convicted of simple assault. In order to act negligently you must commit the act when you know there is a knowing, substantial, and unjustifiable risk of the injury. Keep in mind that injury is not just physical, it can also occur when someone is in imminent fear of injury.

Penalties if Convicted

The penalties for a conviction of simple assault depend on the circumstances surrounding how the criminal offense was committed. Generally, a simple assault is a disorderly persons offense which carries penalties of:

  • $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 6 months in prison

However in certain circumstances the penalties may be either reduced or increased.

Petty disorderly persons offense

The offense will be reduced to a Petty disorderly persons offense if the assault occurred during a consensual fight with the alleged victim. A Petty disorderly persons offense carries penalties of:

  • Up to 30 days in prison

4 th Degree Offense

The offense will be upgraded to a 4 th Degree Crime if the assault occurred on a public official like a police officer. A 4 th Degree crime carries penalties of:

  • Up to 18 months in prison

3 rd Degree Offense

The assault may even be upgraded to a 3 rd degree offense if the assault occurred on a public official and there was bodily injury. A 3 rd degree crime carries penalties of:

  • Up to 5 years in prison


What is a Deadly Weapon?

A deadly weapon is a firearm or weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which could be used in a way that causes death or serious bodily injury or would make a victim reasonably believe that it could cause death or serious bodily injury.

What is Bodily injury and Serious Bodily Injury?

Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, sickness, or any harm to a person’s physical condition. Serious bodily injury is an injury that creates a big risk of death or causes serious, permanent disfigurement or harm to a person’s bodily function.

How can I be charged with Assault for resisting an illegal arrest?

Unfortunately, there is never a right to resist an officer no matter what the circumstances. Even if your arrest is unlawful, if you resist the arrest and commit an assault on the officer, not only will you be charged with assault, but the penalties may be increased to a 3 rd or 4 th degree crime. You should never fight with an officer and when faced with a situation like this, your best option is to comply with the arrest and fight it later in court.

To view the entire New Jersey Law on simple assault go to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.

Still have questions? Contact me today at 1-866-664-8118 for a free initial consultation and let me put your mind at ease. Don’t underestimate the severity of a charge involving Assault. A simple assault charge can end up becoming an Aggravated Assault offense depending on what was involved at the time of the incident, such as a firearm or a weapon, bodily injury to an individual or if the assault occurred on a public official. I will represent your interests aggressively and help guide you through this difficult process.