One of the more common criminal charges in Woodbridge Municipal Court is simple assault. While this charge is a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense, the equivalent of a misdemeanor, it has the potential to result in serious penalties. In addition, there are some instances where this offense can mushroom into aggravated assault, for example, where the victim is a police officer. It is also common to encounter a restraining order where the incident involves allegations of domestic violence. If you are faced with having to defend yourself against a simple assault charge in Woodbridge, call our criminal attorneys for immediate assistance. A lawyer on our team, perhaps one of the several former prosecutors, is available for a free consultation at 732-634-0700.
Charged With Simple Assault in Woodbridge Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1
Under NJSA 2C:12-1, the statute that governs simple assault charges, a person commits a simple assault if they engage in one of three prohibited activities. The first of these prohibited activities is where a person attempts to or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily harm to another. Noticeably absent, however, from this type of offense is the situation where a person negligently causes bodily injury to another. In simpler terms, a person will not be found guilty of a simple assault for accidentally causing harm to another person.
The second type of offense that could result in a simple assault charge, though, does incur liability to a person for merely negligent acts. Where a person negligently causes bodily injury to another through the use of a deadly weapon, they commit a simple assault. This covers all situations where a person accidentally, i.e. without intent to commit harm, causes harm to another through the negligent handling of a deadly weapon. For example, a person would commit this offense if they accidentally shot someone and the resulting injury to the person was not severe.
The third type of action that could result in a charge of simple assault is committed where a person attempts, by physical menace, puts another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. This last method of offense is by its nature difficult to explain. It can essentially be broken down into three elements. Serious bodily injury means an injury that has a substantial risk of death or could lead to permanent disfigurement or disability. Imminent means likely to happen without delay. Lastly, the defendant must create this fear of imminent serious bodily injury purposefully, i.e. with the intent to create this fear. However, the state, though not making it clear on the face of the statute, means by “attempts” that the person takes what a reasonable person would believe to be a substantial step towards the infliction of serious bodily injury. Therefore, while perhaps another criminal offense might apply, it would not be reasonable for a person to believe that a threatening phone call made from someone two states over could result in imminent serious bodily injury. An experienced attorney will know how best to work around the various elements of this complicated offense.
As stated above, the grade of a simple assault charge is a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense usually carries with it a fine of up to $1000, but may under limited circumstances result in a period of incarceration. It is a petty disorderly persons offense, where the simple assault occurs as the result of a mutually engaged fight, such as a bar fight. The resulting fine from such a charge is $500. While these fines may not be all that daunting, they still create a record for you that can complicate your securing employment. There are also other potential consequences that flow from having a criminal record, including impact on your ability to obtain a professional license or citizenship (e.g. your immigration status may be affected).
Simple Assault Defense Attorney in Woodbridge
Although simple assault is an offense that will be handled in Woodbridge Municipal Court, do not make the mistake of thinking that it cannot cause significant issues in your life if you are convicted. If you are found guilty you will be left with a criminal record, fines, and even the possibility of a county jail sentence. Before you make a potentially disastrous mistake call our Criminal Office in Woodbridge for the guidance you need. The consultation is free and an attorney on our team is more than happy to assist you.