What are the Differences Between Assault and Domestic Violence?

To be charged with assault in New Jersey, a person must place or attempt to place the alleged victim in imminent fear of physical harm. An act of physical violence does not need to take place, and the parties do not need to intimately know each other.

Domestic violence is a pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse. Like assault, physical violence does not need to occur to bring a domestic violence charge. Unlike assault, the people involved in a domestic violence case include people that are dating or dated, people that are living together or expecting a child together, and those who are married, separated, or divorced.

What are the Charges for Assault?

New Jersey criminal code distinguishes between two types of assault.

Simple Assault

The following circumstances constitute simple assault in New Jersey:

  • Attempting to cause or purposely injuring another person.
  • Placing or attempting to place another person in fear of imminent bodily injury.
  • Injuring another person with a deadly weapon.

In New Jersey, simple assault is a disorderly persons offense that can bring fines of $1,000 or more if the crime involved extenuating circumstances.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a more serious charge and it involves any of the following:

  • Attempting to or actually causing serious bodily injury to another person, with or without a deadly weapon.
  • Recklessly pointing a firearm at another person or recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon.
  • Committing a simple assault against certain protected actors, including police officers, first responders, and health care workers.

The degree of the charge depends on the circumstances. A conviction for aggravated assault can include an 18-month or 10-year jail sentence.

What are the Charges for Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence encompasses a wide range of actions under the law:

  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Terroristic threats
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Lewdness
  • Murder

In New Jersey, domestic violence is either a felony or a misdemeanor offense, depending on the details of the alleged crime. A misdemeanor is a disorderly persons charge. Misdemeanor domestic violence brings fines, anger management classes, probation, and up to six months in jail. Penalties for felony domestic violence are more severe and include jail time between 18 months and up to 20 years for a first-degree offense.

For someone charged with domestic violence, the repercussions of a conviction can be devastating. A lawyer knowledgeable about all aspects of criminal law can help with a domestic violence or assault case.

Common Defense Strategies for Domestic Violence Claims

After carefully reviewing the case, a criminal defense lawyer establishes a defense strategy based on the facts at hand. Common domestic violence defenses include:

  • The accuser lied. The event did not happen as the accuser states.
  • It was self-defense. Someone who feels they are in danger of imminent bodily harm or sexual assault has the right to defend themselves.
  • The domestic relationship does not exist. As discussed above, domestic violence involves a certain relationship between members of the same household or family.
  • It was an accident. An injury in the home does not automatically point to domestic violence.
  • The police mishandled the case. Law enforcement officials have a duty to act according to the law when gathering evidence, conducting a search or interrogation, or making an arrest. Mistakes at any point can compromise a domestic violence case.

What Should I Do if I Have an Assault or Domestic Violence Charge?

Every assault charge is serious. In New Jersey, a domestic charge can also cause a restraining order. Even if the person believes they have been falsely accused, they should never violate the terms of the restraining order. A criminal defense lawyer can help with any charges.

South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John Protect the Rights of Clients Accused of Assault and Domestic Violence

An assault or domestic violence charge can be life-changing. If you have an assault or domestic violence charge, a South Jersey criminal defense lawyer at Agre & St. John can help. Contact us online or call us at 856-428-7797 for an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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