New Jersey Aggravated Assault

Aggravated Assault Definition

Aggravated Assault Definition NJSA – 2C:12-1b
A person is guilty of aggravated assault if the person:
(1) Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury; or
(2) Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(3) Recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(4) Knowingly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life points a firearm, or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded; or
(5) Commits a simple assault on a “member of the protected class”.

What Does Aggravated Mean?

The word “Aggravated” encompasses the following behavior.
A person acted purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
Basically, this means that you knew what you were doing when you did and that you didn’t care about any consequences.

What Is Serious Bodily Harm?

N.J.S.A. 2C:11–1b defines “Serious Bodily Injury” as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

Explainer Video

Aggravated Assault charges in New Jersey are felonies.
If you’re facing Aggravated Assault charges, it’s important to understand two things:
1. The extent of your victim’s injuries; and
2. Identifying whether the victim in your case is a member of a “protected class”.

Important: Was the victim a protected class?

IMPORTANT: If you are charged with Simple Assault on a certain member of society, then you will be charged with Aggravated Assault.

Protected members of our society include law enforcement, firefighters, EMT personnel, school teachers, bus drivers, and many more.

For example, you will be charged with Simple Assault in New Jersey if you slap your next-door neighbor.
However, you will be charged with Aggravated Assault in New Jersey if you slap a police officer.

It’s the same “slap” but depending on the “who the victim” is, you face Simple Or Aggravated Assault Charges.

Just a few of the Aggravated Assault Cases we Handled

One Newark client got into a confrontation with his coworker. They exchanged words & the situation quickly escalated to blows. He was charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and harassment. We asserted self-defense & successfully got him into a diversionary program.

Another client in Hackensack got charged with both aggravated assault & aggravated sexual assault and stalking. The victim was his girlfriend & through our investigation, we discovered evidence which weakened the government’s case. As a result, we were able to reduce his first-degree charges to fourth-degree charges. As a result, he avoided serving a 60-year prison sentence.

Is It a Felony?

Aggravated Assault is a felony.

This type of crime is committed in many forms and the degrees of punishment vary.

Whenever you cause someone to suffer serious bodily injury, you will be facing felony charges.

Things get worse if you use any type of weapon. It does not have to be a gun.

You can get charged with aggravated assault even if you did not intend to hurt anyone.

Under New Jersey’s Aggravated Assault law, you will be held responsible for your “reckless actions” or if your actions “manifested an extreme indifference” to the value of human life.

2nd-Degree

You are guilty of 2nd-degree aggravated assault if you:
 
  • Attempted to cause serious bodily injury to another or caused such injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances showing extreme indifference to the value of human life.
  • Caused bodily injury to another while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer or while operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.
  • Caused significant or serious bodily injury by knowingly or purposely starting a fire or causing an explosion that resulted in injury to any responding emergency services personnel. 

2nd-Degree Penalties

If you are convicted of a second-degree crime in New Jersey, you face:

  • a potential fine of up to $150,000;
  • a prison term of five to 10 years; and
  • under the No Early Release Act (NERA), you must serve at least 85 percent of your sentence before you can be eligible for parole.

3rd-Degree

You are guilty of 3rd-degree aggravated assault if you:
 
  • cause an injury either attempt to cause significant bodily injury or actually cause such injury, purposely or knowingly or recklessly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life (third-degree crime)
  • cause bodily injury to any emergency services personnel who are either responding to or helping put out a fire that occurred because a defendant knowingly or purposely started a fire or caused an explosion (second-degree crime or third-degree crime, depending on injury).
  • knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, point or display a firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer (third-degree crime)
  • knowingly point, display or use an imitation firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, or attempting to put the officer in fear of bodily injury or for any other unlawful purpose (third-degree crime)
  • use or activate a laser sighting system or device (or an object that a reasonable person would believe is a laser sight) against a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority (third-degree crime). 
  • purposely drive a vehicle in an aggressive manner at another vehicle and bodily injury results (third-degree crime or fourth-degree crime, depending on injury).

3rd-Degree Penalties

If you are convicted of a third-degree crime in New Jersey, you face:

  • a prison sentence of three to five years; and
  • a fine up to $15,000, or both.

4th-Degree

You are guilty of 4th-degree aggravated assault if you:
 
  • Recklessly caused bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
  • Knowingly under circumstances showing extreme indifference to the value of human life pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another, regardless of whether you believed the gun was loaded.
  • Committed a simple assault upon an institutionalized elderly person when you were employed by a nursing home or similar long-term care facility.
  • Committed a simple assault upon another at a school or community-sponsored youth sports event while in the presence of a child under age 16.

4th-Degree Penalties

If you are convicted of a fourth-degree crime in New Jersey, you face:

  • a prison sentence up to 18 months: and
  • a fine up to $10,000, or both.

Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon

If you cause injury to someone with a “deadly weapon”, you will be facing aggravated assault charges.

Simply pointing a gun at someone is aggravated assault.

Even if the gun is unloaded or it is a toy gun, it does not matter.

The simple act of pointing a firearm at or in the direction of another person means that
you are manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

It does not matter that you did not intend to harm anyone.

Deadly Weapon Defined: NJSA§ 2C:11-1.

Deadly weapon means:

  • any firearm or other weapon,
  • device, instrument, material or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which in the manner it is used or is intended to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury;
  • or which in the manner it is fashioned would lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury;

Aggravated Assault with a Bodily Fluid

You are guilty of Aggravated Assault with a Bodily Fluid if you:

  • throws a bodily fluid at a Department of Corrections employee,
  • county corrections officer,
  • juvenile corrections officer,
  • State juvenile facility employee,
  • juvenile detention staff member,
  • probation officer,
  • any sheriff, undersheriff or sheriff’s officer or any municipal,
  • county or State law enforcement officer while in the performance of his duties or otherwise purposely subjects such employee to contact with a bodily fluid commits aggravated assault.

Note: If the victim suffers bodily injury, this shall be a crime of the third-degree.
Otherwise, this shall be a crime of the fourth-degree.

Aggravated Assault By Auto

  • You are guilty of assault by auto if you cause injury by driving in an aggressive manner:
 

Driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner includes, 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.

*You commit simple assault against certain persons given special protection by New Jersey law due to their occupations (third-degree crime or fourth-degree crime, depending on injury).

Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the second degree if:
you cause serious bodily injury while you are operating the auto or vessel while driving drunk:
  • 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;
  • driving through a school crossing if the municipality, by ordinance or resolution, has designated the school crossing as such; or
  • driving through a school crossing knowing that juveniles are present if the municipality has not designated the school crossing as such by ordinance or resolution.

See the Jessica Rogers “Road Rage Law”

What's the difference between simple & aggravated Assault?

We have devoted an entire article and explainer video for this question.

Our
Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey complex as well as nearby cities. The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

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There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

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Protected Classes

  • law enforcement officers who are assaulted either while acting in the line of duty or because of their status as law enforcement officers
  • paid or volunteer firemen acting in the line of duty
  • persons engaged in emergency first-aid or medical services, acting in the line of duty
  • school board members, school administrators, teachers, school bus drivers, or other employees of a public or nonpublic school or school board who are assaulted either while acting in the line of duty or because of their occupational status
  • employees of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency who are assaulted either while acting in the line of duty or because they are Division employees
  • justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Superior Court, judges of the Tax Court or municipal judges who are assaulted either while engaged in the performance of judicial duties or because they are members of the judiciary
  • operators of a motorbus or the operator’s supervisor or any employee of a rail passenger service who are assaulted either while acting in the line of duty or because of their occupational status
  • Department of Corrections employees, county corrections officers, juvenile corrections officers, state juvenile facility employees, juvenile detention staff members, juvenile detention officers, probation officers, or any sheriffs, undersheriffs, or sheriff’s officers acting in the performance of their duties
  • employees of a utility company or a cable television company (including any person employed under contract) engaged in the performance of their duties. Put simply, this section protects utility workers who may be trying to disconnect services.
  • health care workers employed by a licensed health care facility to provide direct patient care, or any health care professionals licensed or otherwise authorized to practice a health care profession who are engaged in the performance of their duties, and
  • direct care workers at a state or county psychiatric hospital or state developmental center or veterans’ memorial home, engaged in the performance of their duties.

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.

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