Being charged with assault under N.J.S.A 2C:12-1 is a serious issue in New Jersey. Very commonly associated with domestic disturbances and fights between couples, an assault conviction will remain on your criminal record and can result in fines, jail time, probation, and difficulty getting a job. If you are facing assault charges it is important to seek legal representation. LS&P Lawyers are experienced in criminal law and represent clients all over New Jersey.

What is Simple Assault?

A person is guilty of simple assault if he attempts to or purposely causes bodily injury to another, negligently causes bodily injury to another with a weapon, or puts another in fear of impending bodily harm by physical menace, such as threatening a person with a weapon. This is considered the least severe form of assault. It is a disorderly persons offense, so it is punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and a maximum of $1,000 in fines, though if the defendant does not have a prior record he should not do jail time. If the assault was committed in a fight which was consented to by both parties, then it constitutes a petty disorderly persons offense, considered to be the lowest level of criminal charge in New Jersey, and punishable by up to 90 days in jail. However, these are still criminal charges, and a person convicted must disclose his conviction to any former employer, which can hinder his employment opportunities.

What is Considered Bodily injury?

In order for a person to be charged with assault, actual, threatened, or attempted bodily injury must be involved. "Bodily injury" is defined as physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition. This definition includes such things as a slap in the face, physical discomfort from a kick, or soreness from a fleeing thief running into a bystander. However, the intent to cause bodily harm must be present. In State v. Cabana, 315 N.J. Super. 84 (Law Div. 1997), the defendant struck the plaintiff with his right index knuckle while gesturing during an argument, causing some physical pain. The court found that "it simply is not sufficiently serious to be so where the contact was incidental to the sequence of events rather than the result of assaultive intent," so the assault in question was not severe enough to warrant prosecution. Yet, it has been held that pushing someone into a counter or putting someone in a headlock for an extended amount of time merits simple assault.

Claiming Self-Defense

However, a defendant can claim self-defense as a reasonable defense against this charge. If a person attacks another person, the targeted person has a right to defend himself with the same level of force used by the aggressor. If someone tries to punch you, you can punch back in defense, but you cannot use a weapon and claim self-defense. Therefore, the defendant can claim that, if the plaintiff attacked first, he responded in self-defense and is not guilty of simple assault.

Get the Best Legal Defense Today

If charged with simple assault it is important to seek legal aide in order to try to keep the charge off your criminal record and make sure your charge doesn’t get upgraded to aggravated assault. Please feel free to contact LS&P Lawyers, LLC for help. We are available 24/7 for free consultation.