Woodbridge NJ Aggravated Assault Lawyers
Assault Charge Defense Attorneys in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Aggravated Assault is a serious indictable offense that, if proven guilty, can carry significant state prison time. Examples of aggravated assault include assault with a deadly weapon, assaulting law enforcement, or any assault as a result of which the victim suffers a considerable injury such as a laceration or broken nose. For these reasons and others, lesser charges such as Simple Assault or Resisting Arrest are often quickly upgraded to felony level aggravated assault charges. Due to the classification of aggravated assault is a felony, such charges, when taken place in Middlesex County, are heard in the Superior Court in New Brunswick. These charges can also be the basis for a Final Restraining Order under the Domestic Violence Act. Therefore, due to the severity of aggravated assault charges, it is important that you avail yourself or your loved on of the abilities of an experienced Middlesex County assault defense lawyer with an understanding of the court system.
Our founding attorney, William A. Proetta, Esq., has successfully handled scores of cases throughout his career including numerous aggravated assault charges. We represent clients who have been charged with aggravated assault throughout Middlesex County, New Jersey including Sayreville, Perth Amboy, Cranbury, Woodbridge, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, South Brunswick, and Avenel. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you, contact us today at (732) 659-9600 for a free initial consultation.
What Is Aggravated Assault & What Are The Penalties ?
Aggravated assault charges are described in section N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) of the New Jersey Criminal Code. But to save you the time of a long boring read, we can tell you that basically aggravated assault is when an ordinary simple assault charge becomes exasperated because you used a weapon, the victim suffered a serious injury, or the victim was a cop. A conviction for aggravated assault will carry state prison time. Under certain circumstances this state prison time could be mandatory or have a stipulation of no parole. For your convenience, we have broken down the three different degrees of aggravated assault charges and their accompanying penalties below:
4th Degree Aggravated Assault
It is a crime of the fourth degree to commit aggravated assault by recklessly causing injury to someone with a weapon. Moreover, aggravated assault to the fourth degree when an individual recklessly points a gun in the direction of another person even if it is unloaded. If one is found guilty of a fourth degree felony, then he or she may be sentenced to state prison for up 18 months, serve a period of probation, incur thousands of dollars in fines, and a be subject to a permanent criminal record.
3rd Degree Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault to the third degree occurs when one causes or attempts to cause significant bodily injury to another, even if it is done recklessly. The operating element here is not intent, but rather the existence of significant injury. Additionally, it is automatically a third degree aggravated assault crime when a weapon is brandished. For example, if an individual exhibits or points a firearm at another, and causes bodily injury to another with a “deadly weapon” or even use an imitation firearm to intimidate a police officer, then the individual, if guilty, is subject to the penalties of a third degree felony, which carries 3-5 years in state prison and a permanent criminal record.
2nd Degree Aggravated Assault
Under rare circumstances, aggravated assault will be a felony of the second degree if one causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. The victim of such a crime will suffer an injury such as a broken bone or loss of a limb. Additional circumstances that often give rise to second degree aggravated assault charges occur when the defendant injures someone while in the process of fleeing or eluding the police or when serious injuries are caused by a drunk driver. The latter is referred to as assault by auto. A second-degree felony is punishable by 5 – 10 years in state prison. There is also a presumption of mandatory incarceration in such cases. This is true even in the cases of first time offenders possessing no criminal record.
If you are a minor, you could spend one to three years in a juvenile detention center, depending on whether you are convicted of a fourth, third or second-degree aggravated assault charge.
Types of Conduct that could get You charged with Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
There are many actions that qualify as aggravated assault under New Jersey law. For example, starting a fire where people are known to gather is one instance of aggravated assault when firefighters and other first responders are injured after arriving to the scene to put out the fire or render services to the injured. Other examples of reckless disregard for another’s life and limb are high-speed police chases, setting off explosions in a populated place, chasing someone with a car, ramming a car or boat into another person’s car or boat, pointing a gun at someone, pointing a laser lighting device at an officer, or driving a car or other vehicle recklessly through a school crossing or on school property. Aggravated assault is also committing a simple assault against a judge or justice, a healthcare worker, emergency rescue worker, school board member or Department of Child Protective Services employee.
Many aggravated assaults occur while eluding police for crimes committed, intentionally setting out to harm people for whatever reason, and through heat-of-the-moment clashes between people or mobs of people. Even if you did not intend to hurt anyone, you can still be charged with aggravated assault if you act recklessly and take unreasonable risks with the lives of others. So, if you drag race with another car on a public street and the other car crashes off the roadway, injuring the driver and passenger, you may be charged with aggravated assault, despite your intentions not to cause harm. The recklessness of the high-speed racing is enough to show that you consciously disregarded the risk of a crash at high speed and the inevitable injury that occurs as a result.
Simple Assault Charge or Aggravated Assault? How to Tell the Difference
Simple assault and aggravated assault seem similar but differ by matters of degree. To illustrate, if you push someone, two hands to the chest, causing them to lose balance and fall, you may be facing a simple assault charge if they stood up, slightly bruised, but not terribly injured. Aggravated assault is closer to taking a baseball bat to someone’s knees. The push is intended to harm the other person but not cause them severe bodily harm, certainly not permanent injury to their body. The baseball bat to the knees is clearly intended to break someone’s bones and potentially cripple them for life. While someone may be in a heated argument with another person and push them in anger, they do not necessarily intend to cause them serious bodily harm.
The degree of harm one causes or intends to cause and the methods they go about causing such harm distinguish aggravated assault from simple assault. Aggravated assault is not only defined by the seriousness of the bodily harm intended, but by the reckless disregard for the life of another human being. And the person to whom the bodily harm is directed, a police officer, firefighter, police officer, or Emergency Medical Technician, may also mean the difference between simple and aggravated assault. Both of these crimes are discussed in the same statute, which encompasses assault offenses – N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.
Degree of Injury Matters when Determining the Seriousness of an Aggravated Assault Charge
The degree of injury not only defines aggravated assault but also determines the punishment. So, in a drag racing incident, if the other car blew a tire and skidded off the road during the race but no one was hurt beyond a few bruises, you may be charged with a lower level aggravated assault. On the other hand, you surely would be charged with a higher degree of aggravated assault if the other car skidded off the road, rolled, and flung the driver and passenger onto the pavement, causing broken bones and life-threatening injuries. Serious bodily injury is an important criterion for the crime of aggravated assault. The degree of seriousness of the penalty is defined by the degree of injury, whether it causes temporary loss of the use of a bodily part or function or whether the victim was in danger of dying or permanently losing a body part, like an arm, leg, or eye. It is the difference between a significant injury, like a broken bone which can heal, and life-changing injury, like the loss of a hand, which is permanent and considered serious bodily harm.
What Happens Now That I’m Charged With Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated Assault is always handled by the County Prosecutor’s Office at the Superior Court because it is an indictable offense. However, it can range in degree of crime depending upon various factors that include the extent of injury that the victim has suffered, the age of the victim, the existence and use of a weapon, or if a police officer was injured. It is the prosecutor’s burden to not only prove you are the one who committed the assault but that the alleged injuries can actually be validated and support a charge of aggravated assault rather than the lesser included charge of simple assault. Under some circumstances, your case may be scheduled for a pre-indictment court date in order to try and work out the case early one prior to presenting the charges to a grand jury. This can sometimes afford you a great opportunity secure a downgrade or Pre-Trial Intervention early on.
Aggravated Assault and Domestic Violence
Charges for aggravated assault are also common in domestic violence cases. Violence between domestic partners, spouses, exes, dates, or household members often ends with assault or aggravated assault. Any crime of physical violence committed with a deadly weapon is going to bring about aggravated assault charges. So, if a wife threatens her husband with a gun, ordering him to leave the house while pointing it at him, she may be charged with aggravated assault in a domestic violence incident, even if the gun was not loaded. She may also find herself named as a defendant in a restraining order petition in family court for committing the aggravated assault, one of the acts that support a protective order under The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
If the alleged domestic violence victim of aggravated assault petitions the court for a temporary restraining order, they most likely will get it. The person assaulted is entitled to petition a judge for an order restraining the attacker from coming near them, their home, their kids, work, or school. Such an order also means the defendant is barred from possessing any firearms. If successful, the plaintiff’s restraining order can be permanent. Violating a restraining order is separate crime of contempt and can land the violator in jail. Basically, someone accused could be prosecuted in criminal court for the assault and face an FRO in family court for the domestic violence. The compounded penalties for aggravated assault could be severe.
Contact an Old Bridge NJ Aggravated Assault Attorney for a Free Consultation
Aggravated assault is a very serious charge that has definite and severe potential to alter your life for the worse. Therefore, it is essential that you seek out and retain an experienced aggravated assault defense attorney who will aggressively fight your charges and, if prudent, attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor for a diminished charges or admittance into a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Proetta & Oliver have extensive experience in handling aggravated assault offenses in Middlesex County and know what it takes to properly defend and beat these charges. To speak with us about your case strategy customized to your facts and needs, contact our office today, conveniently located in Edison by calling (732) 659-9600.
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“MIRACLE WORKER. There are no words to describe what William Proetta did for me. Although I had prior convictions, William Proetta got my most recent case dismissed. He is undoubtedly the best Attorney for hire.” – Tom
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