A conviction for assault comes with serious repercussions, including potential prison time. If you’re facing an assault charge, there is a lot on the line. A New Jersey assault defense attorney from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help you fight for the best possible outcome in your case. In many cases, we are able to get charges reduced or even dropped. We negotiate aggressively for minimum penalties and fight tooth and nail at trial for our clients.
Contact us today for a free and confidential case review with an experienced New Jersey assault defense lawyer. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, we work with clients in Monmouth, Mercer, and Somerset counties and across New Jersey.
Types of Assault Charges Our Firm Can Help With
The dedicated assault defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law have the skills and resources to take on all types of cases.
According to NJ Statute Section 2C:12-1, a defendant has committed simple assault if they:
- Attempt to cause or deliberately cause bodily injury to another
- Injure another person with a deadly weapon
- Physically menace another person with the threat of harm
Simple assault is a disorderly person’s offense and is considered a less serious crime. Penalties for simple assault include:
- A jail sentence of up to six months
- A maximum fine of $1,000
If the simple assault involves two people in a fight, then it is a petty disorderly person’s offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
NJ Statute Section 2C:12-1b states that a defendant has committed aggravated assault if they:
- Attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another person or cause such injury deliberately and under reckless circumstances
- Attempt to cause or deliberately cause bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- Recklessly cause bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- Point a firearm at another person, regardless of whether it is loaded
- Commit a simple assault against certain protected individuals, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, or medical responders
In New Jersey, aggravated assault is an indictable offense, also known as a felony. A charge for aggravated assault can be classified as:
- Fourth-degree – A fourth-degree aggravated assault charge is typically the least severe. Penalties include up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree – A third-degree aggravated assault charge involves attempting or successfully causing bodily injury. A conviction for third-degree aggravated assault can result in up to five years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
- Second-degree – A second-degree aggravated assault charge is the most serious. Penalties include five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000. Additionally, a conviction may result in the loss of other civil liberties, including the right to own a firearm, and the requirement to pay restitution to the victim.
Second-degree aggravated assault also triggers New Jersey’s No Early Release Act. Under this act, those convicted are required to serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentence before they become eligible for parole.
Juveniles can also be charged with aggravated assault. A juvenile is anyone under the age of 18. Juvenile penalties for aggravated assault are different from those for adults, specifically:
- Fourth-degree aggravated assault – Up to one year in a juvenile detention center
- Third-degree aggravated assault – Up to two years in a juvenile detention center
- Second-degree aggravated assault – Up to three years in a juvenile detention center
Furthermore, it is important to note that those under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged aggravated assault are not automatically charged as juveniles. The state can choose to charge a defendant as an adult, which carries much stiffer penalties upon conviction.
NJ Statute Section 2C:14-2 defines sexual assault. A sex act may be considered sexual assault when:
- The defendant commits an act of sexual contact with a victim who is less than 13 years old and the defendant is at least four years older.
- The defendant commits an act of sexual penetration using physical force or coercion, but the victim does not sustain severe personal injury.
- The defendant commits an act of sexual penetration on a victim whom the defendant has supervisory or disciplinary power over, such as a prisoner.
- The defendant commits an act of sexual penetration on a victim who is at least 16 but less than 18 years old and the defendant is a relative, guardian, or in another position of power.
- The defendant commits an act of sexual penetration on a victim who is at least 13 but less than 16 years old and the defendant is at least four years older than the victim.
Aggravated sexual assault is a more serious offense. It includes situations where a defendant commits an act of sexual penetration and:
- The victim is less than 13 years old.
- The victim is at least 13 but younger than 16 and the defendant is a family member or in a position of trust or control.
- The defendant threatens the victim with a weapon.
- The sexual assault is committed during another crime, like robbery or kidnapping.
- The defendant uses force and the assistance of another individual.
- The defendant uses force or coercion, and the victim suffers severe personal injuries.
- The victim is handicapped or incapacitated.
Potential penalties will depend on the degree of the crime. Sexual assault is a second-degree offense in New Jersey, with penalties including five to 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine. Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree offense and can result in 10 to 20 years in prison with a fine of up to $200,000.
Assault on an Officer
Assault on an officer automatically results in an aggravated assault charge. It is a fourth-degree offense unless the officer sustains a bodily injury, in which case it is a third-degree charge.
Penalties for fourth-degree aggravated assault on an officer can include up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Penalties for third-degree aggravated assault on an officer can result in up to five years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
Assault with an Auto
Assault by auto is an assault committed with the use of a motor vehicle (though it does not have to be an automobile specifically). To be charged with assault by auto, the defendant must:
- Be the operator of the vehicle
- Engage in reckless conduct
- Cause an accident
- Cause harm to another as a result of their actions
Penalties for assault by auto depend on the degree:
- Assault by auto is a disorderly person’s offense when the defendant’s reckless conduct results in bodily injury. Penalties include up to six months in jail and fines.
- Fourth-degree assault by auto involves a defendant driving recklessly, resulting in serious bodily injury. A conviction can result in up to 18 months in jail.
- Third-degree assault by auto occurs when the defendant caused someone serious bodily harm in a DWI accident. A conviction may result in five to 10 years in prison.
- Second-degree assault by auto occurs when a third-degree offense is committed in a school zone. The penalty includes 10 to 20 years in prison.
Different Types of Evidence Used to Defend Against an Assault Accusation
In prosecutions, the state must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the prosecution must have enough proof that the only reasonable explanation is that the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime. Among other things, the evidence used to meet this requirement may include:
- Police reports – These generally contain the responding police officer’s initial observations and assessment of the alleged incident. Though they are not always introducible as standalone evidence in court, prosecutors generally consider police reports to provide a reliable account of what happened. Our team scrutinizes these reports for any potential bias or inaccuracy. If a police officer testifies as a witness in your case, their report can also be used in court to refresh their memory during direct and cross-examination.
- Photographs and surveillance footage – A picture is worth a thousand words. Footage from a well-positioned surveillance camera may be worth much more. Visual evidence of an alleged assault — or lack thereof — can serve as a strong foundation for your defense.
- Witness testimony – Eyewitness accounts can also be extremely valuable in an assault case. If there were no witnesses, it would largely be your word against the alleged victims. This disadvantage can be overcome with testimony from a reliable witness to the incident.
- DNA evidence – An assault case may involve DNA evidence, such as hair, blood, or skin cells. However, there can be issues with the collection, testing, or analysis. If DNA evidence is available in your case, a criminal defense lawyer can determine if any of these issues occurred and prevent it from being unjustly used against you.
Is Grabbing Someone by the Shirt Considered Assault?
New Jersey criminal law defines “simple assault” to include attempts to cause bodily injury to another. Simple assault may also include “attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” Bearing this in mind, grabbing someone by the shirt may or may not constitute assault. Ultimately, the outcome of assault cases largely turns on the ascertainable intent of the defendant at the time of the assault and, more generally, on the surrounding context. Our legal team is standing by to build the strongest possible defense on your behalf.
How Long Does Simple Assault Stay on Your Record in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, a conviction for simple assault stays on your record indefinitely unless you take action to expunge it. However, expungement is not immediately available after serving an assault sentence. Normally, you must wait five years after serving your sentence before becoming eligible for expungement. Our legal team is standing by to review the procedural history of your case and help you secure an expungement once you are eligible.
Can I Be Convicted of Assault If I Accidentally Hit Someone?
In New Jersey, assault charges typically require intentional action. However, if your actions were merely reckless and someone suffered harm, you could potentially face charges. For instance, if you hit someone while swinging a baseball bat in a crowded area without checking your surroundings, this could lead to an assault charge even though it was accidental. Crafting a defense in cases like this requires a close look at the facts. Our experienced attorneys can evaluate your case and determine the most effective defense strategy.
Common Defenses in Assault Cases
Depending on the details of your case, our attorneys will explore all potential defenses available to you. We may argue circumstances such as:
- Defense of property
- Defense of another
- Lack of intent
During our investigation, we may also uncover additional holes in the prosecution’s case. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, we will seize every opportunity to fight the assault charges against you.
How Our New Jersey Assault Defense Attorneys Can Help You
If you’re facing an assault charge in New Jersey, the stakes are too high to roll the dice on your defense. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. An assault and battery attorney from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can:
- Investigate the case against you and identify weaknesses
- Challenge evidence that should be suppressed
- Gather evidence and witness testimony to bolster your defense
- Devise a strategic legal defense aimed at achieving the best possible outcome, whether that be case dismissed, charges reduced, or minimum sentencing
- Represent you in court to ensure your rights are protected at every stage of the case
Fighting assault charges can be stressful and overwhelming, but you don’t have to take them on alone. A New Jersey assault defense lawyer from our firm can handle every aspect of your case, giving you peace of mind.