NJ Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge
Arrested for Second Degree, Third Degree, or Fourth Degree Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Bergen County
If you or a loved one has been accused of Aggravated Assault with a Weapon, protecting your rights is crucial, as is understanding the implications of being charged with this 3rd degree indictable offense. The general section and statute citation for assault is New Jersey Statutes Annotated NJSA 2C: 12-1. This subsection of Title 2C (New Jersey’s Criminal Code) contains all crimes related to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The lowest criminal offense being simple assault, aggravated assault with a weapon is widely considered to be one of the more serious crimes a person in New Jersey can be charged with. In reading this you will be able to distinguish the different subsections of this specific offense, the penalties associated, what behavior is required to be charged with offense, and why enlisting defense help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential. The official statutory title for this offense is Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Most people, including myself, read “deadly weapon” and have our own ideas of what that could possibly mean. Well, many people don’t realize that in this context, deadly weapon can be anything that is capable of causing serious harm to another person.
Contact our Bergen County office if you are facing charges for assault with a weapon in Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Teaneck, Rutherford, North Arlington, or other towns. We appear in Bergen County Superior Court on a weekly basis defending clients charged with indictable crimes for aggravated assault, weapon possession, prohibited weapons and devices, terroristic threats, and domestic violence offenses. Our passion is doing the best possible job for those we represent, doing everything in our power to avoid or reduce the impact of their pending criminal case on their life and their freedom. Call (201)-330-4979 to talk to a criminal defense lawyer free of charge.
Deadly Weapon According to New Jersey Law
NJSA 2C:11-1(c) defines “deadly weapon” as any “device, instrument, material or substance” that is known, in being used as intended, to be “capable of producing death or serious bodily injury” or cause the victim to reasonably believe so. There’s much case law setting nuanced precedent regarding this definition. Unwitting defendants can be completely blindsided without proper representation.
Decisions like State v. Hutson have found objects such as a “toy gun” to be considered a deadly weapon for purposes of reversing a conviction of the defendant for armed robbery. This is because the state argued that the defendant had caused the victim to reasonably believe that the “toy gun” was capable of producing death or serious bodily injury; however, the toy was never brandished and the defendant only stated to the victim that he had a gun. In addition, Connor v. Powell held that a “plastic fork” was not a deadly weapon (believe it or not), because no officer could have believed that the fork was capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Other cases show us many exceptions to this definition but it comes down to whether or not the object, when used as intended, is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury, or may cause a victim to believe so. This gives us a spectrum of possible deadly weapons, with guns (obviously a deadly weapon) being on one side and things like a “plastic fork” (obviously not a deadly weapon) on the other. Only an experienced attorney with this specific offense can lead the court and finder of fact to the more beneficial side of the spectrum for you.
Types of Assault with a Deadly Weapon in NJ
Most criminal offenses in New Jersey are graded by their seriousness. The seriousness of a crime is usually dependent upon the level of intent that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have been possessed by the accused when they are alleged to have committed the crime.
New Jersey Statutes Annotated 2C:12-1(a)(2) prohibits a person from negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. This is solely for the criminal offense of Simple Assault. Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon requires more than the intent level of negligence. Negligence is merely a failure to adhere to a specific duty of care that we owe to each other as people in society. There is no intent level, but really only a duty to not act like a jerk to someone who is owed that duty. For example, I cannot throw my baseball bat into the dugout after I hit a home run. I owe my teammates a duty to not injure them by throwing baseball bats into the dugout. This would constitute wrongful behavior under this statute even though I did not intend to hurt anyone. Negligence is vacated through reasonable behavior. If you act as though a reasonably prudent person would act in similar circumstances, there is very little chance you can be negligent. Only an experienced attorney can help the finder of fact (jury or Judge) conclude the issue as to what a reasonably prudent person may do in a similar situation.
NJSA 2C:12-1(b)1 covers aggravated assault without a deadly weapon. Subsection NJSA 2C:12-1(b)2 prohibits the attempt to cause or “purposely or knowingly” causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. The attempt (meaning the accused had taken substantial steps to complete the crime but could not, for whatever reason), is still guilty of violating the statute and still subject to the associated penalties. This is the highest level of intent a person can have and is associated with the harshest penalties. First degree murder requires the same intent level. NJSA 2C:1(b)(3) considers the “reckless” causing of bodily harm to someone with a deadly weapon. This is between purposeful intent and negligence. With purposeful throwing a baseball at a person, intending them to be hurt by it, and knowing with certainty that if I throw the bat it will hurt, then recklessness would be throwing a bat into a crowd of people. I am not targeting anyone in particular, but I am fairly certain it will hit someone in the crowd if I throw it at them.
NJSA 2C:12-1(b)(4) is an interesting subsection of this statute. This section prohibits a person from exhibiting an “extreme indifference to the value of human life” by pointing a firearm, even if the human target of the gun’s direction knows it is unloaded or not. You can’t point guns at people. If you do, you will be charged with this offense. This intent requirement is that you knowingly point the gun and by doing so display behavior indicative of an extreme indifference to human life.
NJSA 2C:12-1(b)(5)(a) through (b)(5)(k) are elevating offenses for a person who commits a simple assault on a person belonging to specific class or group of people. For example, if you simply push a law enforcement officer, or bump into the officer, you can be automatically charged with aggravated assault since it was a police officer you bumped into and not me. Subsection (5)(b) does the same for firemen, (c) emergency medical technicians, (d) school employees, (e) any Dept. of Child Protection and Permanency employee, (f) Judges (if you push a Judge, you may have bigger problems than aggravated assault to worry about, (g)mass transit employees, (h) Dept. of Corrections employees, (i) utility company employees, (j) healthcare workers, (k) workers in Veteran homes, or psychiatric institutes. NJSA 2C:12-1(b)(6) elevates any injury caused by a defendant while they are eluding capture by law enforcement.
As you can see, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon encompasses a great many types of behavior and conduct. Intent is not always required, and more importantly, it never matters if you intended the victim to get hurt.
Levels of Severity for Assault with a Deadly Weapon Offenses
It should be automatically triggered by all 2C:12-1(b) charges for defendants to retain experienced counsel because these charges do not carry light sentences. Third degree crimes like the “attempt” and “purposeful” subsections are third degree crimes that carry maximum sentences of 5 years with a minimum of 3, and up to $15,000 in fines. More severe examples showing disregard for human life are second degree crimes that carry maximum sentences of 10 years with a minimum of 5, and up to $150,000 in fines. The least in terms of severity involves pointing a firearm, which is a fourth degree crime that carries a maximum sentence of 18 months and up to $10,000 in fines.
Call Now to Speak to a Paramus Assault with a Weapon Defense Lawyer
When facing assault with a deadly weapon allegations, you have the option to get an experienced attorney and possibly never worry about what life will look like five or ten years from now. There is always hope with a seasoned criminal attorney on your side. There are many defenses and factors to be considered, so it is imperative to find a lawyer who can argue these properly before a Judge in order to ensure that your immediate and long-term future is not ruined by your past or your present.
If the major aspects of a criminal charge such as assault with a deadly weapon are in place, but the defendant’s conduct does not fit with what the statute says, that defendant may still be shown in court as the guilty party. This, of course, is unlikely to happen with a prepared and proactive criminal attorney representing you, objecting to inadmissible evidence, reminding the judge and/or jury that it’s the government with the burden to prove the defendant guilty, not the defendant’s burden to prove their innocence.
Contact (201)-330-4979 or provide us with your contact information on our online intake form for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers can challenge aggravated assault with weapon charges against you anywhere in Bergen County, including in Paramus, Palisades Park, Ridgefield Park, Lodi, Elmwood Park, Garfield, and many others in North New Jersey.