If you are like most New Jersey residents, you consider yourself a law-abiding citizen. When a situation arises that results in assault charges, you may not know what to do. Understanding the exact charges is essential for mounting an effective defense.
While the law views assault and battery as two separate actions, they often occur as part of the same incident. Cornell Law School defines assault as putting another person at reasonable risk of imminent offensive or harmful contact. This is a general term and might include simple assault or aggravated assault.
Types of assault
Purposefully, recklessly or knowingly causing bodily harm to another person is simple assault. This charge could result if you protect yourself or someone else from an attacker. Aggravated assault includes acting with extreme indifference to the value of human life. These charges could result if you used a deadly weapon to protect yourself, another person or your home.
Defenses for assault charges
The penalties for assault depend on the circumstances and type of charges. You could spend up to 30 days in jail and receive fines up to $1,000 for a simple assault conviction. However, aggravated assault is a felony, resulting in up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Several defenses may help you reduce charges or potentially get them dismissed.
Self-defense argues that you committed the assault but had justification due to the threatening actions of the “victim.” You must show that you had the reasonable belief the other person was a danger to you. Defense of a third party requires the same criteria applied to the protection of someone else.
The burden of proof defense means that the prosecutor must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This often includes challenging the credibility of witnesses or evidence of the event.
Understanding the legal defenses available are crucial when protecting your rights. If convicted of assault, your criminal record may prevent you from living in certain places and bar you from specific types of jobs. Your future and livelihood might be on the line.