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FAQ About Assault Charges

Q: Does someone have to actually be injured for a simple assault to be charged?

A: No. Under the statute, it does say that, but most charges take a very nuanced view of the word “injury.” The injury doesn’t have to be requiring medical care. An injury can simply be a smack to the face, a shock – that’s considered injury. To just push somebody out of their way, that’s going to be considered an injury. When there is any kind of unconsented to and offensive touching, it could be considered simple assault.

Q: What is assault on a member of a protected class?

A: That’s going to be called a hate crime or a bias crime. In New Jersey, a bias intimidation statute is going to come under 2C:16-1, and bias intimidation is the most common hate crime someone can be charged with in New Jersey.

Typically, there are four ways you could be charged with bias intimidation. Primarily, if you commit a crime with a person intimidating an individual or a group of individuals because of their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, ethnicity, or gender identity/expression, you could be convicted of bias intimidation. You can also be convicted if you commit a crime while knowing that doing so would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of those factors. One example is sporting a swastika on the temple.

Likewise, if you commit a crime under circumstances that cause any target victim of that crime to be intimidated. In this case, you reasonably believe that the crime was done for purposes of intimidating them. Due to the fact that they fall into one of the protected classes, you could be convicted of a bias intimidation.

There is also hate crime laws. A hate crime is any unlawful act done in a manner that evidences and sanctions to victimize an individual who is part of a protected class. You start with an unlawful act before you get to the bias intimidation. An unlawful act can be harassment under NJSA 2C:33-4, criminal mischief under NJSA 2C:17-3, aggravated assault under NJSA 2C:12-1(c) or any other crime in New Jersey. It’s the discrimination component that brings in some of the additional penalties.

Q: What should someone do when dealing with the police?

A: It is recommended that you don’t do any more damage to yourself when you are dealing with the police. Invoke your right to remain silent, do not consent to any searches, and do not consent to anything. Tell the police you want a lawyer, and get a lawyer as soon as possible. That’s the best way to protect yourselves.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about assault charges or call the law office of attorney James Abate for a free initial consultation at 908-643-7005.

The Law Offices of James A. Abate LLC

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