Simple Assault: N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a)

Newark Simple Assault Lawyers

Essex County Assault and Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Essex County Simple Assault Charges
NJ Simple Assault Lawyer – 2C:12-1(a)

Although your simple assault charge may have arisen from a minor altercation or even a misunderstanding, it is important that you take the charge very seriously. If you are convicted of simple assault in New Jersey, you could be looking at severe punishments such as heavy fines, loss of your driver’s license, and even jail time. It will also result in a permanent criminal charge for simple assault on your record. A violent offense like that can cause you serious problems in terms of employment, school, professional licenses, etc. In fact, if you are charged with simple assault for alleged domestic violence, you may even be issued a restraining order as well. If you are facing charges for simple assault in Essex County, New Jersey, it is critical to retain a criminal defense lawyer who can provide an aggressive defense.

We represent clients facing simple assault charges throughout Essex County, including Newark, Bloomfield, Montclair, Belleville, and Irvington. Our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys has successfully handled thousands of simple assault cases in Superior Court and Municipal Courts in New Jersey, so we know what it takes to win your simple assault case. The firm also has a former county and municipal prosecutor on staff who used to prosecute simple assault charges for the State. This gives us an edge when we represent you in court. If you have been charged with simple assault in Essex County, it is imperative that you act quickly. Call our offices in Newark, New Jersey today at 201-654-3464 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Essex County criminal defense lawyers.

Simple Assault Charges in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a)

The NJ Criminal Code classifies simple assault as a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense. The exact classification, and the potential penalties, is determined by the circumstances of the offense. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a), simple assault occurs when you:

  1. Purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to someone else.
  2. Negligently cause bodily injury while using a deadly weapon.
  3. Use physical menace to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury

When the altercation stems from a fight entered into by mutual consent, the charge is classified as a petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, it is a disorderly persons offense.

Penalties for Simple Assault in New Jersey

You need to take your simple assault charge seriously because the penalties are no joke. If you are convicted, you may be sentenced to six months in jail and fined up to $1,000. Additionally, you could be left with a permanent criminal record for simple assault on your criminal case history (known as a “CCH”). Beyond that, you could lose your driver’s license and your right to own a firearm in the State of New Jersey.

Enhanced Penalties for Aggravated Assault in NJ

In the worst cases, your simple assault charge could be elevated to aggravated assault. Since aggravated assault is classified as a felony-level offense, you will have to appear in the county Superior Court and you may be sentenced to a term of incarceration in state prison.

Domestic Violence Simple Assault Charges

If your simple assault offense was allegedly committed during a domestic violence altercation, these charges must be issued by the police on a warrant complaint (as opposed to a summons). This is a crucial distinction. On a summons, you are processed and released with a court date. On a warrant, on the other hand, you are taken to the Essex County jail after processing. You will then see a Judge within 24-48 hours for a bail review. At the bail review, one of two things can happen. You can be released with certain conditions and a court date. Or, the State can move for detention and ask the Judge to hold you while the case is going on.

If they move for detention, you will have a hearing within 5 days and remain in jail until then. At the hearing, the Judge will consider your prior criminal record (if any), your ties to the community, and the arguments of the prosecutor and your attorney and then render a decision about whether or not you will be released from jail.

Can the State Prove Your Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

Once the simple assault charges are filed and you are arrested and processed, the case will be scheduled for court. Because simple assault is a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor), the case will be handled in the local Municipal Court in the town in which your charges arise. They will be prosecuted by the local Municipal Prosecutor in the local Municipal Court. There is no jury, the case will be heard before the Municipal Judge.

The State will provide the discovery which is all of the evidence they have and intend to rely upon to try to prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Discovery evidence can include:

  • Police reports
  • Videos
  • Bodycams
  • Pictures of injuries
  • Medical records
  • Witness statements
  • Victim statements

Once the discovery is provided, the case will be scheduled for a conference in court to see if it can be resolved with a plea bargain. The Prosecutor will speak to the police officer, the alleged victim, and review the strength of their evidence and then decide how they want to proceed. They can offer a downgrade or even a dismissal if certain conditions are met (counseling, no contact with victim, carry period of no further incidents). If the case is not resolved by a plea bargain, then the case will be scheduled for a trial before the Judge.

At the trial the prosecutor will call witnesses (victim, police officer) and admit evidence in an attempt to prove simple assault beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense can cross examine the State’s witnesses, call their own witnesses (if they wish), and admit their own evidence (if they wish). Once both parties are finished, the Judge will make a ruling. Either the charges will be dismissed or the defendant will be convicted of simple assault. If convicted, then the defendant will be sentenced to fines, probation, and even jail time in some cases.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Simple Assault Charges in NJ

FAQ: Is simple assault a misdemeanor charge in NJ? Yes, it’s called a disorderly persons offense.

FAQ: Where will my simple assault charge be heard? In most cases, the local municipal court. However, if you have other felony charges related to this incident, then all of your charges will be transferred to the Superior Court (county) for resolution.

FAQ: Am I going to jail if convicted of simple assault in NJ? It depends. You are facing six (6) months in the Essex County jail. However, there is a presumption of no jail time for first time offenders. So, if you have no prior criminal history and you’re convicted of simple assault, it is presumed that you will be sentenced to probation and not jail.

FAQ: Can I get a first offender program on simple assault? Yes, as long as it was not a domestic violence incident. The first offender program is called a conditional dismissal but you are not eligible if you have used a first time offender program before or if your simple assault was allegedly committed during a domestic violence dispute.

FAQ: Can I keep my simple assault charge off of my permanent record? Sometimes. You may be eligible to have the case dropped or dismissed after a carry order, or downgraded to a local ordinance violation, or you may be eligible for a first offender program. Finally, you may be able to have the case dismissed after trial.

Contact a Newark Simple Assault Lawyer for Additional Information

If you or a loved one has been charged with simple assault in Essex County, NJ, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at our firm can assist you. We have a reputation for winning in the courtroom, which gives us an edge when it comes to negotiating simple assault charges with the prosecutor. Regardless of the situation, we are prepared to fight you charges and secure the best possible outcome to your case. Call us today at 201-654-3464, or email us to schedule a free consultation.

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