Pennsylvania + NJ Simple Assault Lawyer
Simple assault is a serious criminal charge. Regardless of whether you were arrested for simple assault in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you risk facing penalties like jail time, costly fines, loss of your gun privileges, and other consequences. Because of the grave penalties that can result from a simple assault conviction in either state, it is crucial to be represented by an experienced assault defense attorney. If you were arrested for assaulting someone in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, turn to the criminal defense firm of Young, Marr & Associates for legal help.
At Young, Marr & Associates, our defense lawyers have more than 30 years of experience handling simple assault charges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We understand the court system, we understand the tactics that prosecutors use, and we understand the potential defenses that can reduce your penalties. It may even be possible to have your case dismissed. For a free legal consultation, contact Young, Marr & Associates online today.
What is Simple Assault?
Because of the word “simple,” simple assault might not sound like a serious offense. However, this could not be further from the truth. If you are found guilty of simple assault, not only will you receive harsh criminal penalties, you will also receive a criminal record, which can create major obstacles when you are looking for housing, employment, or loans.
Every state has its own laws defining simple assault. The Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws on simple assault are explained below.
Simple Assault in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s simple assault definition is located at 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701(a). Under this legal definition, a person can be charged with simple assault when he or she does any of the following:
- Attempts to make another person fear “imminent” serious injury
- “Negligently” (carelessly) injures another person with a deadly weapon, which includes loaded and unloaded guns
- Injures another person, or even attempts to injure another person, by acting “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly”
In Pennsylvania, acting “recklessly” means acting without regard for safety risks to others.
Though rare, there are also cases where people are charged with simple assault because they are (1) carrying a concealed hypodermic needle and (2) use the needle to intentionally injure a police officer.
Simple Assault in New Jersey
New Jersey’s definition of simple assault can be found at N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1(a). Nearly identical to Pennsylvania’s definition, simple assault occurs when a person:
- Recklessly or deliberately causes, or attempts to cause, injury
- Negligently injures someone with a deadly weapon
- Puts another person in fear of serious and imminent injury
Jail Time for Simple Assault
Pennsylvania separates crimes into three categories:
- Summary offenses, which are minor crimes like disorderly conduct or public intoxication
- Felonies, which are the most serious criminal offenses
There are first degree, second degree, and third degree misdemeanors. Third degree misdemeanors are the least serious, while first degree misdemeanors are the most serious. The same applies to felony offenses.
New Jersey follows a similar system, but uses different terminology. In New Jersey, offenses are sorted into three groups:
- Petty disorderly persons (DP) offenses
- Disorderly persons offenses
- Indictable offenses
DP and petty DP offenses are like misdemeanors in other states, while indictable offenses are equivalent to felonies. Petty DP offenses are less serious than DP offenses. Confusingly, DP and petty DP offenses are not considered crimes, but will nonetheless result in a criminal record, in addition to potential fines, jail time, and other serious consequences.
These categories are important, because they impact the fines and sentences that may be imposed if the defendant is convicted. The penalties in both states are explained in greater detail below.
Pennsylvania Simple Assault Penalties
In Pennsylvania, simple assault offenses are “graded,” or placed into one of the categories above, under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701(b). This statute normally makes simple assault a second degree misdemeanor, with two exceptions:
- Situations where two or more people mutually agree to enter “a fight or scuffle,” like a fight outside of a bar, which makes simple assault a third degree misdemeanor
- Situations where someone 18 or older assaults someone who is under age 12, which makes simple assault a first degree misdemeanor
Depending on whether it is graded as a third, second, or first degree misdemeanor, the criminal penalties for simple assault in Pennsylvania may include the following:
- For a third degree misdemeanor, up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines
- For a second degree misdemeanor, up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines
- For a first degree misdemeanor, up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines
New Jersey Simple Assault Penalties
The penalties for simple assault in New Jersey are listed under N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1(a). Similar to Pennsylvania, New Jersey makes simple assault a lesser offense in cases where the participants mutually agreed to the fight. Under the statute, simple assault is normally treated as a disorderly persons offense, or misdemeanor, unless there was “mutual consent,” which makes simple assault a petty DP offense. Depending on how the crime is graded, simple assault penalties in New Jersey could include the following:
- For a petty disorderly persons offense, up to 30 days in jail and $500 in fines
- For a disorderly persons offense, up to six months jail and $1,000 in fines
Simple Assault Defense Attorneys Serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Being arrested for simple assault can change the course of your future. Not only can you be incarcerated and separated from your loved ones – you can also be fined hundreds or thousands of dollars, be ordered to attend anger management classes, be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, and receive a criminal record.
Make sure you take action to defend yourself against these serious allegations. If you or one of your family members was charged with simple assault in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, contact the assault defense lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates online for a free consultation. Alternately, Pennsylvania residents can reach us at (215) 372-8667, while residents of New Jersey can reach Young, Marr & Associates by calling (609) 257-4019.