Assault by Automobile
Assault by automobile is a serious charge with dire consequences. A conviction under N.J.S.A 2C:12-1 will remain on your criminal record and can result in fines, jail time, probation, and difficulty getting a job. If you are facing these charges it is important to seek legal representation. LS&P Lawyers is experienced in criminal law and represent clients all over New Jersey.
A person is guilty of assault by auto if he recklessly drives a vehicle and causes bodily harm to the victim. The degree of crime depends on the degree of injury. If serious bodily injury occurs (permanent disfigurement, risk of death, loss or impairment of any body part or organ), the crime constitutes a fourth degree offense, punishable by 6 to 18 months imprisonment and up to $10,000. If bodily injury occurs (pain, impairment of physical condition), the crime constitutes a disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to 6 months in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. The most important aspect of this crime is driving recklessly. Mere negligence by the driver will not be enough to convict for this crime. Intent to injure someone with a vehicle constitutes aggravated assault, a much more severe charge.
However, if the defendant was driving while intoxicated, both of the violations move up a degree. If serious bodily injury is caused, a third degree offense is committed, meriting 3 to 5 years imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines. If bodily injury occurs while driving while intoxicated, a fourth degree offense is committed.
If serious bodily injury occurs under these circumstances, the crime qualifies a second degree offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, if:
- the offense occurred on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property
- the offense occurred while driving through a school crossing if the municipality designates the crossing as such
- the offense occurred while driving through a school crossing and knowing that juveniles are present, even if the municipality has not designated the crossing as such
If bodily injury occurs under these circumstances, the crime constitutes a third degree offense.
If one causes serious bodily injury to a person with a vehicle and then knowingly leaves the scene of the crime, a third degree offense is committed. This offense will not merge with an assault by auto charge and, if convicted on both counts, the sentences will run consecutively. To be convicted of this the State must prove that the defendant knew there was an accident and knowingly left the scene.
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If you have any questions regarding this statute please feel free to contact LS&P Lawyers for help. We are available 24/7 for free consultation.