It is not uncommon for someone to be charged with both assault and battery. Many states consider it a joint charge. However, both terms are not interchangeable and constitute separate offenses in New Jersey. An individual can be charged with assault alone, or assault and battery.
By definition, assault is the intention to cause bodily harm to another person either on purpose or through the negligent use of a dangerous weapon. Threatening or intimidating behavior towards another person also constitutes assault. Interestingly enough, New Jersey courts do not require any physical contact between the victim and the defendant for the offense to be charged as assault. If a victim has enough reasons to believe they might be at risk of being injured by another person (who is acting on purpose or being negligent), that constitutes assault per state laws. Assault is a crime with varying degrees of penalties, depending on the severity of the case and extent of injuries.
Battery, however, is the physical act of hitting someone and causing injury. New Jersey Statutes Title 2C of The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 11-1 defines bodily injury as “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition”. To be charged with criminal battery, an individual must have physically touched, caused pain, bodily injury, or even touching a person without consent and causing injury. A person can be found guilty of assault without being charged with battery, as assault also refers to the intention of causing harm – even if the defendant never actually touched the victim. In many cases, a criminal battery conviction will usually be charged as aggravated assault.
In New Jersey, an aggravated assault is classified as a second, third, or fourth-degree offense, with fourth-degree being the least serious. Aggravated assault usually involves what NJ law defines as serious bodily injury, i.e, an “injury that 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”. Those charged with assault may face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.00. Besides jail time and fines, an assault charge results in a criminal record for the offender.
Whether you have been charged with battery and are facing aggravated assault or have been charged with assault, it is important to understand your charges and know what you can do to defend yourself and protect your rights. Our firm knows how to navigate the complicated New Jersey Criminal Law codes and can help you take the right next steps in your case. We know being charged and arrested for assault can feel scary and overwhelming. We will analyze your case and all the evidence presented by the prosecution and come up with a defense strategy to downgrade charges or dismiss them whenever possible. Contact the Law Offices of Keith Hirschorn, P.C. by calling 201-798-4024.