Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault Charges

What is the Difference Between Simple & Aggravated Assault Charges?

Charged with Simple Assault? Aggravated Assault? Confused on the difference between the two? If so, you are not alone. The assault section of the New Jersey Criminal Code (NJSA 2C:12) is by far one of the most complex sections of the entire code. It is comprised of numerous subsections, which at times, only adds to the confusion. To make matters worse, assault allegations can also lead to several other ancillary issues as well, including the imposition of a temporary restraining orderseizure of weapons and if the facts are egregious enough, a denial of bail pending trial. However, in order for a Defendant to be denied bail, the prosecution must file for and be successfully at a Detention Hearing. For more information on Detention Hearings, please see below.

If you or a loved one has been charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, assault by auto, assault on a police officer or served with a restraining order in Monmouth County, we strongly urge that you speak to an attorney about your options. Understanding your options and the potential ramifications of your charges is absolutely crucial when it comes to successfully defending these types of allegations. If you have unfortunately found yourself in this type of situation in towns like Manalapan, Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Howell, Tinton Falls, Eatontown, Belmar, Colts Neck, Keyport or Rumson, the Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. If you would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at our office about your options, please contact us at 732.858.6959. As always our initial consultations are free of costs, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Key Difference Between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault

Are Assault Charges Considered a Felony or Misdemeanor in New Jersey?

All simple assault charges will be considered a disorderly persons offense, which is New Jersey’s version of a misdemeanor. Conversely, aggravated assault charges will be considered an indictable offense, which is New Jersey’s version of a felony. To complicate things even further, aggravated assault charge(s) can either be considered a second, third or fourth degree felony. The facts surrounding the incident will dictate what degree of a felony a Defendant is charged with. Some of those key factors include the type of injury caused or attempted to be caused, the “status” of the alleged victim (i.e. police officer, EMS, firefighter) and whether or not a weapon was used. For more information on the different degrees of aggravated assault charges in New Jersey, please see click the link

What is the Sentence for an Assault Charge in NJ?

As one would imagine, the potential penalties between a simple assault offense and an aggravated assault offense drastically differ. A conviction for a simple assault charge would expose a Defendant to a potential six month jail sentence, a fine up to $1,000, community service and court mandated anger management. When it comes to the potential exposure for an aggravated assault charge, the underlying degree of the charge will control. A conviction for a second degree aggravated assault charge would expose a Defendant to up to a decade behind bars and a fine up to $150,000. For a third degree aggravated assault charge the Defendant would be facing anywhere from three to five years in a State Prison and a fine up to $15,000. Lastly, for a fourth degree aggravated assault charge a Defendant would be facing up to eighteen months in a State Prison and a fine up to $10,000. As you can tell, the potential penalties drastically differ.

Where Do I Have to go to Court for an Assault Charge in Monmouth County?

All simple assault charges will be litigated in the local municipal court in the municipality where the incident occurred. For example, if a Defendant is charged with simple assault of an incident at DJAIS in Belmar then the charges will be litigated in the Belmar Municipal Court.

All aggravated assault charges, regardless of the degree, will need to be transferred to the Monmouth County Superior Court in Freehold for disposition. So for example if a Defendant is charged with aggravated assault following an incident at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, their case will need to be transferred to the Monmouth County Superior Courthouse in Freehold for disposition. With that being said, depending on the facts, defense counsel could convince the prosecution at the Defendant’s Pre-Indictment Conference to downgrade the aggravated assault charges to simple assault charges and remand them back to the local municipal court. If that was to occur in the above example, the charges will then be litigated in the Holmdel Municipal Court.

Can I be Served with a Restraining Order for an Assault Charge?

If the alleged victim in the case qualifies as a “victim of domestic violence” under the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act then they will have the option of seeking a temporary restraining order as well. A temporary restraining order is in addition to the underlying assault criminal charges as well. In other words, they are two separate matters that will be litigated in two separate court proceedings. For more information on restraining orders in Monmouth County, please click the link.

Can I Get Bail on an Assault Charge in NJ?

New Jersey has significantly changed their bail system over the last couple years. Our bail system is now geared towards a risk assessment analysis as opposed to a pure monetary system. If the assault charges are serious enough and/or if they are classified as an “act of domestic violence” (i.e. victim is a loved one or housemate) then the Defendant will almost certainly be detained for at least twenty-four hours in the Monmouth County Jail so that pretrial services can conduct their assessment. Depending on their assessment, the prosecution will then have to decide by the Defendant’s Central Judicial Processing Hearing (CJP), which must take place within forty-eight hours of arrest, whether or not they are filling for detention. If they are filling for detention then a Detention Hearing must be set and it will be up to the Judge to determine if the Defendant will be released and if so, under what conditions. For more information on Detention Hearings in Monmouth County, please click the link.

Need Local Lawyer for Assault Charge in Belmar

As you can see from reading above, assault charges can become very complicated and tend to involve a lot of moving pieces. If you or a loved one has been charged with an assault charge in Monmouth County, in towns like Red Bank, Hazlet, Marlboro, Freehold, Manasquan, Rumson, Little Silver, Oceanport, West Long Branch and Asbury Park, the Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. If you would like to set up a free initial consultation today, please contact our Middletown Office at 732.858.6959 or you can try contacting us online.

Author: Keith G. Oliver

Founding partner Keith G. Oliver has a passion for helping people who are caught up in the criminal justice system. He believes that everyone has a right to be presumed innocent, and that one mistake shouldn’t define a person forever. This passion drives Mr. Oliver to tirelessly fight for his clients and pursue the best possible outcome in every case.