The offenses of assault and battery are often linked, even though many states treat them as two distinct crimes. An assault occurs when a person threatens another with imminent bodily harm. A criminal battery occurs with an unlawful reckless or intentional harm to another with or without a deadly weapon; it requires offensive physical contact with a person or with an extension of the person such as their glasses or clothing. In New Jersey, there are various categories for assault and even if a battery is committed, it's charged as an assault.
Assault in New Jersey
The offense of simple assault is the most basic assault charge in New Jersey. Simple assault charges arise when an individual engages in the following conduct: attempts to cause, or knowingly or recklessly causes, bodily injury to another; negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or attempts to place someone in fear of imminent injury by menacing them. A simple assault is classified as a disorderly persons offense. If the simple assault stems from a mutual fight, then it's categorized as a petty disorderly persons offense. However, if an assault is more serious such as an assault on a police officer or fire fighter, or if the assault is conducted with a vehicle, then it's classified as aggravated assault.
Battery in New Jersey
If you commit a battery in New Jersey, you will actually face an assault charge. However, the reverse isn't true: A person could be charged with assault without having committed a battery. Since one way to commit an assault involves menacing a person, this conduct would not constitute a battery because a battery requires physical touching.
New Jersey Assault and Battery Laws at a Glance
The chart below provides a summary of New Jersey's assault laws, including links to important code sections.
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:12-1 (Assault)
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:33-2 (Disorderly Persons Offense)
- Attempts to cause or knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person; or
- Negligently causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon; or
- Attempts by physical menace to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Disorderly Persons Offense:
- Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense, which is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine.
- If the simple assault is committed in a fight with mutual consent, then it's a petty persons offense, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
Aggravated Assault Instances:
- Recklessly causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- Attempts to cause or purposely causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another person or causes such injury purposefully, knowingly, or under a negligent or reckless situation; or
- Recklessly pointing a firearm at another person, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
New Jersey Assault and Battery Laws: Related Resources
Confused about Assault and Battery? An Attorney Can Help
The laws related to assault and battery in New Jersey can be difficult to comprehend if you don't have much experience with the law. If you're facing charges, your best bet is to consult with a skilled legal expert. Get a handle on your case by talking to a local criminal defense attorney to learn more about your options and defenses.