People have heard the terms “assault” and “battery” and, thanks to TV and movies, they often hear it as one criminal charge: assault and battery. In some states in the country, it is considered a joint charge. However, in New Jersey, there is a legal difference between the actions and charges.
When a normal conversation involves the word “assault,” people assume that someone beat up another person. However, in most legal courts in the US, assault is not actually inflicting harm on another person.
Assault is characterized as threatening behavior that suggests that someone is going to physically harm another person. This could be anything from shouting at a person, crowding their personal space while making threatening gestures and even actually lunging at a person.
It’s worth noting that in New Jersey, assault can also be defined as someone causing the other person physical harm – whether it was by negligence or by purposeful action. Simple assault can also cover situations in which a person was making an effort to cause bodily harm in other ways, but didn’t succeed.
In most states (including New Jersey), you need to have actually physically harmed a person in order to be charged with criminal battery. Even touching a person without their consent in a way that causes light injury or minor offense can be considered battery in most jurisdictions. Battery can be a 2nd, 3rd or 4th degree crime, depending on the severity of the crime.
In the State of New Jersey, most courts will charge you with aggravated assault if you have been convicted of criminal battery. So, while you may have committed an act that is recognized as battery, the actual criminal charge that you will face in New Jersey law will most likely be aggravated assault.
The criminal laws covering assault charges in New Jersey are complex. If you or someone you love is facing an assault charge, you need a qualified, experienced lawyer to protect your rights and fight hard to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. John W. Tumelty has been a defense lawyer in New Jersey for more than 30 years. Contact him today for a free consultation about your case.