Simple vs. Aggravated Assault

“Simple” and “aggravated” are two terms used to describe the severity of a criminal offense. For example, a simple assault can describe any small fight between two individuals while an aggravated assault refers to an altercation where one or both of the parties suffered bodily harm. The descriptors “simple” and “aggravated” can be used to describe other criminal offenses as well, such as robbery.

An assault is a physical attack committed against another human being. If you have been charged with assault in New Jersey, whether you are charged with simple or aggravated assault determines the penalties that you face. The penalties you face can play a role in determining your legal strategy. If you have been charged with either type of assault, it is important that you start working on your defense with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Do not wait to start working on your legal defense – when you are facing an assault charge, you could be facing life-changing consequences.

What is a Simple Assault?

A simple assault charge is a lower-level assault charge than an aggravated assault. For an act to be deemed a simple assault, it must meet the following:

  • The attacker acted intentionally.

  • The attacker acted recklessly or negligently to cause the harm.

  • The victim suffered substantial bodily harm as a result of the attack.

A simple assault can be committed with or without a weapon. In most cases, a simple assault is a disorderly persons offense. The penalty for this conviction is a fine of up to $1,000 or double the victim’s losses.

A simple assault can be charged as a fourth degree crime if either of the following apply:

  • If the attacker was working in a nursing home or other institutional facility and attacked an elderly victim;

  • The attack occurred within the presence of a child under the age of 16 while at a school or youth sporting event.

In these cases, an individual found guilty of simple assault can face up to 18 months in prison as well as a $1,000 fine.

What is an Aggravated Assault?

An aggravated assault is a more serious offense than a simple assault. If the assault caused permanent or serious physical harm to the victim or if the victim was a member of one of the classes specified by law, the attacker may be charged with aggravated assault. Aggravated assault can be a fourth, third or second degree charge.

If a simple assault is committed against a school official, police officer, firefighter, EMS personnel or judge, it is a fourth degree aggravated assault. The penalty for this offense is a jail term of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000.

Penalties for third and second degree aggravated assault convictions include jail terms of three to 10 years and fines of up to $150,000, depending on the charge level and the circumstances of the offense.

An assault conviction will change your life. Be sure your interests are represented in court by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today at 732-370-9596 to discuss your case with one of our team’s experienced criminal defense attorneys. We serve clients in Monmouth, Mercer, Ocean, Burlington, and Middlesex counties.

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