Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault in NJ
There are two types of assault charges in New Jersey: simple assault and aggravated assault. As the names apply, simple assault is less harsh compared to aggravated assault.
Simple Assault in New Jersey
Generally, simple assault means harming another person and causing minor injuries (e.g., small cuts and bruising), as well as threatening or attempting to harm someone else. This violent crime is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of six months and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.
However, if simple assault was charged due to a fight involving agreeing parties, it is considered a petty disorderly persons offense. A conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to 30 days and/or a maximum fine of $500.
Aggravated Assault in NJ
Aggravated assault occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury (e.g., long-term, permanent, and potentially fatal injury), causes or attempts to cause harm with a deadly weapon, recklessly causes injury with a deadly weapon, commits simple assault against a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical personnel, or another type of protected worker.
There are many other examples of aggravated assault, which is considered a felony offense. The penalties for aggravated assault are divided into three different degrees: second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree aggravated assault.
Fourth-degree aggravated assault can result in imprisonment for up to 18 months and/or a maximum $10,000 fine. This offense occurs when a person points a firearm at someone else, recklessly injures someone else while using a deadly weapon, or commits simple assault against a protected worker.
Third-degree aggravated assault carries a prison term of up to five years and/or a maximum fine of $15,000. This offense occurs when a person intentionally tries to harm another individual with a deadly weapon, attempts to cause serious injury to someone else without any regard for human life, points a firearm at a police officer, starts a fire that causes bodily injury to emergency personnel, commits simple assault against a protected work and causes serious injury, intentionally strangles a spouse or family member, and using a laser targeting system on a police officer.
Lastly, second-degree aggravated assault is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a maximum $150,000 fine. This offense occurs when a person injures another individual while fleeing the police, starts a fire that causes serious injury to emergency personnel, and any other action not covered by the other two degrees of aggravated assault.