What is the Difference Between Simple Assault & Aggravated Assault

When it comes to defending an assault charge in New Jersey it is important to determine first whether the charge is for a simple assault or aggravated assault. The difference between the two will not only indicate what court has jurisdiction over the charge but it will also indicate the potential penalties that an individual is facing as well. Furthermore, it is more likely than not that an individual charged with aggravated assault will be subject to bail reform and thus be forced to go through a detention hearing in order to be released from the county jail on bail, pending trial. Once that is determined, it is then important to figure out who the alleged victim was. Was it a random person? Was it a police officer? Was it a loved one? The type of victim could not only lead to additional charges but it could also lead to collateral consequences including a temporary restraining order.

Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault Charges in NJ

If you or a loved one is facing a simple assault, aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon or any other offense for that matter in Mercer County, we can help. Assault charges are very complex and tend to have a lot of moving pieces. If you would like to set up a free initial consultation today, please call our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779. We serve all of Mercer County, including Ewing, Lawrenceville, East Windsor, West Windsor, Princeton, Robbinsville, Hightstown and Trenton. Now here is some more information on assault charges in New Jersey.

What is Considered Simple Assault?

Simple assault is the lowest level assault charge under the New Jersey criminal code. The governing statute for simple assault is NJSA 2C:12-1. There are three different subsections in which an individual can be charged under. The first subsection deals with a situation where the it is alleged that the individual attempted to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to another. The second subsection deals with a situation where it is alleged that the individual negligently caused bodily injury to another by using a deadly weapon. The third and final subsection deals with a scenario where it is alleged that the individual attempted by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

All of the subsections are considered a disorderly persons offenses, unless the incident is classified as “mutual combat”, then it will be considered a petty disorderly persons offense. Disorderly persons offenses is New Jersey’s version of a misdemeanor. All simple assault charges will be litigated in the local municipal court in the municipality where the incident happened. So, for example if the individual is arrested and charged with simple assault at Rider University, their charges will be transferred to the Lawrenceville Municipal Court for disposition. Anyone convicted of simple assault will be facing up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. A simple assault conviction will remain on an individual’s record for at least three years before they can petition the court for an expungement.

Will I be Charged with Aggravated Assault?

All aggravated assault charges, regardless of the subsection that an individual is charged under, with be considered an indictable offense, which is New Jersey’s version of a felony. Depending on the specific subsection that the individual is charged under, they could be facing either a second, third or fourth degree felony. The type of injury caused or attempted to be caused (bodily injury, significant bodily injury or serious bodily injury) and the status of the victim (police officer, EMS or firefighter) will more likely than not help determine the specific degree. For more information on the different degrees, please checkout our Mercer County aggravated assault practice area by clicking the link.

Unlike simple assault charges, all aggravated assault charges must be transferred to the Mercer County Superior Court, which is located in the City of Trenton for disposition. So, if the individual is charged with aggravated assault at TCNJ, the charges will need to be transferred from the Ewing Municipal Court to the Mercer County Superior Court for disposition.

Depending on the degree, an individual charged with aggravated assault could be facing up to a decade behind bars and a fine up to $150,000. Furthermore, a conviction for this type of offense will remain on an individual’s criminal history for at least six years, at which point they will still need to petition the court for an expungement.

Served with Restraining Order for Assault Charge in Mercer County

Regardless of whether in the individual is charged with simple or aggravated assault, if the incident is classified as an act of domestic violence, the victim will have the opportunity seek a temporary restraining order in addition to the criminal charges. If that is to occur, the individual will not only be forced to defend themselves against the criminal charges but against the restraining order as well. The restraining order is separate and apart from the criminal charges and will be litigated in the Chancery Division, Family Part of the Mercer County Superior Court. For more information on restraining orders in Mercer County, please click the link.

Need Lawyer for Assault Charge in Trenton NJ

Assault charges are anything but straightforward and tend to involve he said she said type of allegations, as such we strongly urge that if you have unfortunately found yourself in this type of situation that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. As you can see from above the penalties can be devastating. To set up an initial consultation today, please contact our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779 or you can try contacting us online. As always, our initial consultations are free of costs, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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.