NJ 2C:12-1c. Assault by auto.

Defending NJ 2C:12-1c.  Assault by auto.

After you read the following NJ criminal statute (assault by auto) 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 20 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.

Assault by Auto Summary

An assault by auto occurs when a person drives recklessly and causes bodily injury to another.  The assault by auto statute includes the driving of either an automobile or a vessel (boat).  Because all that is needed is reckless conduct, it is not required that the defendant intentionally hurt another.

Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition, whereas serious bodily injury is bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

What the Prosecution Needs to Prove

There are three main elements that the State must establish in order to obtain a conviction for assault by automobile in New Jersey.  They must prove that (1) the defendant was driving a vehicle or vessel; (2) the defendant caused bodily injury or serious bodily injury to the victim; and (3) the defendant caused such injury by driving the vehicle or vessel recklessly.  In order to establish the second element, it must be found that the victim would not have been injured but for the defendant’s conduct.

Penalties for Assault by Auto in New Jersey

Assault by auto is a fourth degree crime if serious bodily injury results from the defendant’s conduct.  Under these circumstances, the individual would be sentenced to up to 18 months in jail and charged with up to $10,000 in fines if convicted.  If non-serious bodily injury occurs, the defendant could be found guilty of a disorderly persons offense, facing up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The level of crime increases if the defendant is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offense.  Therefore, if someone violates the DWI statute while committing assault by auto and serious bodily injury occurs, the crime is elevated to a third degree offense.  If bodily injury occurs while driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, the crime is of the fourth degree.

The penalties further increase if the defendant is driving recklessly in violation of the DWI statute while also on school property, in a school crossing, or within 1,000 feet of such property.  If serious bodily injury results from such conduct, it is a crime of the second degree, and it is a third degree crime if ordinary bodily injury occurs.

NJ Statute: 2C:12-1c.  Assault by auto.

c. (1) A person is guilty of assault by auto or vessel when the person drives a vehicle or vessel recklessly and causes either serious bodily injury or bodily injury to another.  Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury results and is a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury results. Proof that the defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle in violation of section 1 of P.L.2003, c.310 (C.39:4-97.3) may give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.

(2)Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and bodily injury results.

(3)Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the second degree if serious bodily injury results from the defendant operating the auto or vessel while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) while:

(a)on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property;

(b)driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 if the municipality, by ordinance or resolution, has designated the school crossing as such; or

(c)driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 knowing that juveniles are present if the municipality has not designated the school crossing as such by ordinance or resolution.

Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if bodily injury results from the defendant operating the auto or vessel in violation of this paragraph.

A map or true copy of a map depicting the location and boundaries of the area on or within 1,000 feet of any property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board produced pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1987, c.101 (C.2C:35-7) may be used in a prosecution under subparagraph (a) of paragraph (3) of this subsection.

It shall be no defense to a prosecution for a violation of subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (3) of this subsection that the defendant was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while on or within 1,000 feet of any school property or while driving through a school crossing.  Nor shall it be a defense to a prosecution under subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (3) of this subsection that no juveniles were present on the school property or crossing zone at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.

(4)Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and bodily injury results.  For purposes of this paragraph, “driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner” shall include, but is not limited to, unexpectedly altering the speed of the vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way, or following another vehicle too closely.

As used in this section, “vessel” means a means of conveyance for travel on water and propelled otherwise than by muscular power.

AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:12-1c, Violation 2C:12-1c, Offense 2C:12-1c

Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.

home-publications