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Defending NJ 2C:12-1a. Simple assault.

Defending NJ 2C:12-1a. Simple assault.

Seeking Legal Help for Simple Assault Charges

After you read the following NJ criminal statute (simple assault) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case. The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 30 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor. Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation or read more about the assault charge.

Overview of NJ Statute 2C:12-1a: What Constitutes Simple Assault

NJ Statute: 2C:12-1a. Simple assault.
a. Simple assault. A person is guilty of assault if the person:
(1) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
(2) Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(3) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.

Detailed Breakdown of Simple Assault Charges

Simple assault is a disorderly persons and in some instances a petty disorderly persons offense. A simple assault involving related individuals or people in a relationship can also be considered Domestic Violence which carries additional implications. Simple Assault is a serious charge but lesser of the assault statutes when compared to aggravated assault which is a crime or felony.

Elevated Cases: When Simple Assault Becomes More Serious

The severity of the charge can be determined by many factors including the extent of the injury that is caused or attempted to be caused, the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the injury or attempted injury, and often the parties involved. For example, a simple assault on a police officer is elevated by statute to an aggravated assault. Similarly, a simple assault involving spouses would be considered Domestic Violence. In New Jersey, it is common for an individual to be issued a charge of simple assault when getting into a scuffle. When domestic violence is involved, the police will almost always arrest if there is any evidence of injury, even minor injury.

Proving a Simple Assault Charge: The Prosecutor's Role

Because the charge of simple assault can be committed without physically causing bodily injury to another, it can be a tricky charge to understand. In a simple assault case, the State can prove a simple assault occurred in countless different ways.

Defensive Strategies for Simple Assault Charges

The best way to challenge a charge of simple assault in New Jersey is to provide evidence that shows that the defendant was not in the state of mind that is required for the charge based on the arrest.

Self-Defense and State of Mind in Assault Cases

It is important to establish context for how and why the assault may have occurred. Self-defense may be a defense to an assault. Proof of the defendant's state of mind must be established beyond a reasonable doubt using inferences from the nature of the act and the surrounding circumstances.

Consequences of a Simple Assault Conviction in NJ

In New Jersey, a simple assault charge is a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense is similar to a misdemeanor offense in other states.

Legal Implications: Disorderly vs. Petty Disorderly Persons Offense

A conviction for a disorderly persons offense, such as simple assault, comes with a $1,000 fine and the potential of up to (6) six months in jail. An exception occurs under the simple assault statutes if a fight occurs in a consensual way. In that situation, the participants could each be charged with simple assault as a petty disorderly persons offense which carries a maximum (30) thirty days in jail and a fine of up to a $500.

Final Note: Understanding Your Rights and Legal Options
AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:12-1a, Violation 2C:12-1a, Offense 2C:12-1a

Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website as of December 2023.

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