Violent crimes are often more serious than certain other crimes. As a result, if you face a criminal charge for assault, the consequences at stake could be substantial. Undoubtedly, you would want to avoid the negative outcomes of such allegations if at all possible, and doing so may start with fully understanding your predicament.
Even if you know yourself to be innocent of these charges, the court will likely not simply go on your word. Defending against evidence brought by the prosecution will fall to you, but it is important to remember that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. This means that, if the evidence presented does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime, a jury, in theory, cannot convict you.
Understanding your charges
Technically, you could choose to sit through your case without putting forth any verbal effort to defend yourself. However, that is not typically the route accused individuals tend to take, especially when accused of a violent crime. If authorities have charged you with assault, you may want to take the time to determine the severity of the charge.
In New Jersey, you could face an allegation of simple assault if any of the following scenarios apply:
- Authorities suspect you of physically menacing another person to the point that the person felt fearful of serious bodily injury.
- Authorities suspect that you attempted to cause or recklessly caused bodily harm to another person.
- Authorities suspect that you used a deadly weapon and negligently caused bodily harm to another person.
On the other hand, you could face a more serious charge of aggravated assault, if any of these situations apply:
- Authorities believe you attempted or purposefully caused bodily harm to another party using a deadly weapon.
- Authorities suspect that you recklessly caused another individual bodily harm by using a deadly weapon.
- Authorities suspect that you recklessly brandished a firearm at another person, whether loaded or not.
- Authorities suspect that you attempted to cause serious bodily harm or did cause harm through negligent or reckless actions.
Though aggravated assault is a more serious charge, either allegation could seriously affect your future. As a result, once you understand the charge that you face, you may then want to gain information on your defense options and work toward the best outcome possible.