“Assault” is a loaded word that can bring many unsettling images to mind. However, while the term is in relatively common use in day-to-day life, it also has a strict definition. There are actions that you may not believe would count as assault but just might in the eyes of the law. All citizens of New Jersey should have at least a basic understanding of how state law determines whether someone’s actions fall under this offense. Here is a helpful guide intended to answer a question that you may not have known needed asking: “What could count as assault in New Jersey?”
The Basic Definitions
Under New Jersey Statutes 2C:12-1, a person commits assault in New Jersey if they “attempt to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another.” The latter half of that phrase fits with the definition that most civilians use when they talk about assault, but the first half may be a surprise to some. The New Jersey legal system believes that even just trying to hurt another person can get somebody a conviction for assault if they press charges.
There are two other ways that someone can get convicted for assault. One is if they “negligently cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon,” such as a firearm or knife. Calling such an action “assault” also seems in step with the popular definition of the term.
However, the remaining legal definition of assault might be completely unexpected to those with less experience in law, and is, therefore, we would say, the one you most need to know. A person can be found guilty of assault in New Jersey if they “attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” This means that raising a fist at someone can lead to charges if you made them believe that you would truly hurt them. A mere threat can get you in trouble, even if you never followed through with it.
It should be noted here that New Jersey law considers assault to be a disorderly persons charge. However, if the assault occurs during a fight in which the people involved mutually agreed to engage, it would be a petty disorderly persons charge. In both of these situations, the statute of limitations for filing a complaint against someone over simple assault is one year.
This means that victims of assault in New Jersey should talk about their assault to injury lawyers as soon as possible if they want to receive compensation. Contact the New Jersey personal injury law firm of James C. Dezao, P.A. at (855) 432-2489 and receive a free consultation today.
What Could Count as Aggravated Assault?
What we defined above has the more technical name of “simple assault.” New Jersey courts have long upheld that some instances of assault are far more grievous and deserving of far harsher penalties than others, which is why assault is divided between this and “aggravated assault.” There are many ways that a simple assault charge can be raised to an aggravated assault charge, and only one of these is needed to elevate this from an offense to an outright crime.
NJ Statutes 2C:12-1 gives three different criteria for considering someone to have committed assault. Doing any of those same acts will instead be considered aggravated assault if they are committed against certain types of individuals, whether it is while they are on duty or because you know them to have these roles. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Law enforcement officers
- People providing medical services, including emergency first-aid
- Members and employees of schools, including bus drivers, and school board members
- Bus and rail employees
- Utility workers
As for specific actions that qualify under the law as aggravated assault, they include, but again are not limited to:
- “Purposely or knowingly” trying to cause or succeeding in causing “serious bodily injury”
- Injuring someone with “a deadly weapon,” whether intentionally or through recklessness
- “Knowingly” points a firearm at someone, even if it is not loaded and even if the person pointing it does not know if it is or is not loaded
- Injuring someone while running or driving away from law enforcement
- Injures someone in a way that requires medical attention after starting a fire or explosion on purpose
- Knowingly pointing a firearm, displaying a firearm, or using a firearm’s “laser sighting system or device” on a law enforcement officer
If you or a loved one strongly believe that an incident that occurred might fall under this definition, you need to report that assault to injury lawyers with experience in helping people get through this. The NJ assault lawyers at The Law Office of James C. Dezao, P.A. are ready and eager to help you receive compensation for any injury related to assault in New Jersey. Contact us today at (855) 432-2489 to receive a free consultation and the help you need.