Understanding the Difference between Simple and Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
Under the criminal laws of New Jersey, if you attempt to harm someone else, or if you intentionally cause injury to another person, you can be charged with assault. There are two levels of assault, though: simple assault and aggravated assault. Whether you will be charged with one or the other depends of a variety of factors.
Under New Jersey law, you can be charged with simple assault for any of the following acts:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause another person to suffer bodily injury
- Negligently or carelessly causing bodily injury by using anything defined by the statute as a “deadly weapon.”
- Intentionally causing another person to fear impending or immediate bodily injury
Intentionally is defined under the law as acting either knowingly or purposefully. Your act will be considered reckless if there’s a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” of bodily injury as a result, and you consciously disregard that risk.
Your actions will be considered negligent if a reasonable person would not have done the same thing.
The New Jersey statute identifies eleven specific situations where simple assault will be elevated to aggravated assault. They include:
- An attempt to cause “serious” bodily injury
- An intentional attempt to cause bodily injury using a deadly weapon
- Recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon
- Causing bodily injury while attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, or while unlawfully operating a motor vehicle
- Intentionally pointing a firearm at another person
- Attempting or causing bodily injury in a way that shows an extreme indifference to the value of human life
- Starting a fire or causing an explosion that results in injury to an emergency services worker
- Pointing a real or imitation firearm at a police officer
- Committing a simple assault against anyone defined by New Jersey statute as afforded special status, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, judges, Youth and Family Services workers, corrections officials, teachers or school employees, bus or public transit operators, utility or health care workers
- Using any laser device that simulates the laser sighting alignment systems on certain firearms
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