Peyrouton Law

Difference Between Simple & Aggravated Assault?

Simple Assault & Aggravated Assault charges are very different.
One is a misdemeanor & the other is a felony.
This article explains the difference between these two charges, penalties, and legal defenses.

Difference Between Simple & Aggravated Assault

The difference between Simple Assault & Aggravated Assault could mean the difference between going to jail & your freedom. .
Simple Assault is a Misdemeanor or Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey.
These cases are heard in Municipal court. .
Aggravated Assault is a Felony of Indictable Offense in New Jersey. .
Felony convictions are prosecuted in New Jersey Superior Court. .

What are the penalties for Simple Assault?

The penalties include up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000- fine. .
A conviction for this charge will stay on your record for five years. .

What are the penalties for Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated Assault is a Felony or Indictable Offense in New Jersey. 
Felony convictions stay on your record for 10 years. 
Depending on whether you are facing a 2nd, 3rd or 4th-degree felony charge, you will face different prison terms. 
Visit this page for more on Felony Charges:
NJ Felony (Indictable) Charges: 5 Steps To Start Fighting Back

When is Assault a misdemeanor
& when is it a felony?

There are two things you need to be aware of.
1. Did you injure a member of a “Protected Class”?
2. If you did not injure a member of the protected class, what are the victim’s injuries?
Protect Classes In New Jersey
If you commit a Simple Assault on a member of a protected class, you will automatically be facing Aggravated Assault charges.
For example, a police officer is a member of New Jersey’s protected class.
If you commit a Simple Assault on a police officer, firefighter, teacher, etc., it instantly becomes an Aggravated Assault (felony) charge.

Simple Assault Explained

You may be shocked to learn that you can be charged with misdemeanor assault, or “simple assault,” if the victim suffers no injuries at all.
A minor scratch or tiny bruise can get you arrested and charged with simple assault charges.
You can even be charged for making a threat of physical harm without any actual physical contact.

In other words, you will face misdemeanor assault charges for any “unwelcome” touching of another person
It does not matter if you caused physical injury.
Simple Assault is the most common & least serious form of assault charge in NJ.

Aggravated Assault Explained

If you use a deadly weapon to threaten to use a deadly weapon on another person, you can be charged with felony aggravated assault.
A deadly weapon is anything that can cause death or great bodily harm.
Most commons weapons involved in aggravated assault charges are guns and knives.
Aggravated Assault examples include the following:

– Striking or threatening to strike a person with a weapon or dangerous object
– Use of a firearm – either shooting someone or threatening to shoot or kill someone while pointing a gun at them;
– Assault with the intent to commit another felony crime such as rape or robbery;
– Any assault that results in serious physical injury to someone else;
– Any assault against a member of a protected class, such as a police officer, healthcare provider, social services worker or disabled or elderly person.
Please note that in New Jersey any gun-related criminal charge triggers the Graves Act.

Legal Defenses & Strategies Part 1

If you are charged with either simple or aggravated assault, it is important to understand the circumstances of your situation.
Were you acting in self-defense?
Did you feel threatened or in danger?
These charges commonly arise in confrontational situations.
If you were at a bar or party & someone threatened you, you may have acted to protect yourself.
Self-defense is a legally recognized defense.
As your criminal lawyers, we will conduct our own investigation into your situation.
For example, we would obtain surveillance (if any) and interview any/all witnesses.

Legal Defenses & Strategies Part 2

If you were charged with felony aggravated assault, we will work very hard to get the charge downgraded.
A “downgrade” means that the charge would go from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Successfully downgrading a charge involves aggressive lawyering.
We show the prosecutor that you have a “borderline” case.
This means that your case is really a simple assault but that it was charged as an aggravated assault.
Once we get it downgraded, you are out of felony danger.

Let's Recap

Simple assault charges are low-level, misdemeanor offenses.
A conviction for simple assault carries up to six months in jail and stays on your record for five years.
Aggravated assault charges are felony charges and a conviction will stay on your criminal record for ten years.
The best legal defense for either charge is self-defense.
To know if you have a self-defense claim, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
For more information on finding the right criminal defense lawyer for you, we have included this article:
Criminal Lawyers: Why We Need Them & How to Choose One
If you would like to meet with us to discuss your case, we offer FREE consultations.

Attorney Alan G. Peyrouton

Attorney Alan G. Peyrouton

Mr. Peyrouton is a Criminal Defense Attorney located in Hackensak, NJ.His articles in the areas of Criminal Law have been published in The New Jersey Law Journal.He is a distinguished author, trial attorney, and has had the privilege of arguing before the New Jersey Supreme Court.Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Peyrouton was a world-class, competitive tennis player.He is perfectly fluent in Spanish.

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