Individuals in New Jersey who cause harm without regard for a victim's life may be charged with aggravated assault. While an assault charge is typically a misdemeanor, an aggravated assault charge is generally prosecuted as a felony. Those who use or possess a deadly weapon when causing harm to other people could face aggravated assault charges. A deadly weapon is broadly classified as anything that might seriously injure or kill a person. In some cases, an object might be construed as a deadly weapon because of how it was used while committing an assault.
A person might be charged with aggravated assault because of who the victim was. For instance, assaulting a police officer or firefighter may be considered an aggravating factor when determining the severity of the charge a person will face. An aggravated assault charge may also be appropriate if a victim is mentally or physically disabled.
In most cases, an attack that results in significant injury will classified as aggravated assault. The same may be true if a defendant causes a person to legitimately fear that he or she will be hurt or killed. It is important to note that a person could be charged with aggravated assault after committing a criminal act even if there was no intent to hurt or kill someone.
Those who are charged with misdemeanor or felony assault and battery may face significant penalties if convicted of the charge. In some cases, a conviction results in the defendant spending time in prison or spending many years on probation. An attorney may be able to help a person get a charge dropped or reduced, which might make it possible to avoid those or other penalties. This may be done by having evidence suppressed or casting doubt on witness testimony during a trial.