Let’s say that you were involved in an altercation and police were called to break it up. You may be facing an assault charge. In New Jersey, that can take at least two different forms—simple assault of aggravated assault. Here’s the difference.
Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey (what most others states refer to as a “misdemeanor”). Simple assault requires intent—accidentally striking a person is typically not assault, unless you meant to hit another person, but missed (this is known as “transferred intent”), or if the unintended assault was with a deadly weapon.
To constitute assault, your actions must be either intentional or reckless and must be for the purpose of causing bodily injury to another person. However, there’s no requirement that you make actual physical contact or that there be any touching at all. If you create a reasonable apprehension of immediate harm, that can be prosecuted as simple assault.
In New Jersey, aggravated assault is an indictable offense, comparable to a felony in other jurisdictions. There are a number of factors that cause a simple assault to be elevated to an aggravated assault:
- The use of a weapon (including the type of weapon)
- The extent of injury to the victim
- Whether the victim was a police officer or public employee performing his or her official duties
- Whether the assault was by automobile
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