If you’re here, it’s likely because you want to know how New Jersey law handles situations where someone is accused of injuring another person using an automobile. This is formally known as “assault by auto,” and it’s a serious issue. In New Jersey, the legal consequences can vary depending on the details of what happened. In this article, we’ll break down these complicated laws so you can better understand what you might be facing.
How New Jersey Categorize’s Crimes
First, let’s understand how New Jersey categorizes different types of crimes. In most states, you’ll hear about “misdemeanors” for less serious crimes and “felonies” for more serious ones. But in New Jersey, things are a bit different. Minor crimes here are called “disorderly persons offenses,” while more serious crimes are labeled as “indictable crimes.” Indictable crimes have levels ranging from 4th degree up to 1st degree. The higher the degree, the more severe the crime and its punishment.
Types of Assault by Auto
In New Jersey, there are different scenarios that can lead to a charge of assault by auto. Let’s get into these:
1. Reckless Driving with Injury
This is when you drive carelessly and someone gets hurt. It could be because you were texting while driving, which the law says is automatically reckless. If the person you hurt gets seriously injured, this becomes a 4th-degree indictable crime. If the injury is not that bad, then it could be classified as a disorderly persons offense.
2. Driving While Intoxicated and Causing Injury
This one’s about driving after drinking alcohol or using drugs. If you do that and hurt someone, you’re looking at another case of assault by auto. Again, the level of the crime depends on how badly the other person is hurt. For severe injuries, it’s a 3rd-degree indictable crime. For less serious injuries, it’s a 4th-degree crime.
3. Drunk Driving in School Zones
The law doesn’t take it lightly if you’re caught drunk driving near a school and someone gets hurt. Severe injuries could lead to a 2nd-degree indictable crime, while less serious injuries could result in a 3rd-degree indictable crime.
4. Road Rage
If you intentionally try to harm someone with your car because you’re angry, this also falls under assault by auto. Causing serious injury could lead to a 3rd-degree indictable crime, while less serious injuries could be a 4th-degree indictable crime.
Penalties You Could Face
Understanding the landscape of legal penalties for assault by auto in New Jersey is critical for anyone caught up in such a situation. With varying degrees of severity, consequences can range from a disorderly conduct charge that might lead to a short stint in county jail, to indictable crimes that carry significant prison terms and heavy fines.
Below, we delve into the specific penalties you could face based on the nature and severity of the offense.
- Disorderly Conduct Offense: Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c)(1), if the assault by auto results in “bodily injury,” it’s classified as a disorderly conduct offense. The penalties for this can include up to six (6) months in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and the possibility of a driver’s license suspension.
- Fourth Degree Crime: Operating an automobile recklessly that leads to “serious bodily injury” is considered a fourth-degree crime. Conviction at this level could mean up to eighteen (18) months in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Third Degree Crime: If “serious bodily injury” results from a DWI-related or aggressive driving incident, the offense becomes a third-degree crime. Penalties can include up to five (5) years in prison and a fine that may reach $15,000.
- Second Degree Crime: Causing serious bodily injury as the result of a DWI-related accident escalates the offense to a second-degree crime. Here, you could face a prison term ranging between five (5) to ten (10) years and a potential fine of $150,000.
The penalties for assault by auto in New Jersey can be severe and life-altering, reinforcing the need for careful consideration and experienced legal guidance. From relatively lighter penalties like a disorderly conduct offense to extremely serious second-degree crimes, understanding these potential outcomes can inform your defense strategy. Armed with this knowledge, it becomes all the more essential to consult with a skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC to navigate the complexities of the legal system and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case.
What to Do If You’re Charged
Being charged with assault by auto is a big deal. Your first step should be to get a lawyer who knows the laws of New Jersey well. They can help you figure out what to do next and how to defend yourself.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A skilled New Jersey assault by auto lawyer at our firm can look at the evidence, like traffic cameras or witness accounts, and use it to help your case. We can also talk to the other side’s lawyers to see if a deal can be made to lessen your charges or penalties.
Myths and Misconceptions
Many people think that you have to want to hurt someone for it to be “assault by auto.” That’s not true. Even if it was an accident, you could still face charges if you were driving recklessly or drunk.
Contact Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC Today For a Free Consultation About Your Assault by Auto Charges in New Jersey
The classification of an assault by auto offense in New Jersey hinges on various factors, notably the degree of injury inflicted and the circumstances under which the offense was committed. The grading of these offenses ranges from disorderly persons offenses to indictable crimes, each carrying its own set of penalties and long-term implications. Understanding the complexity of these classifications is crucial, especially for anyone involved in a legal issue involving assault by auto.
If you or a loved one is facing such charges, it is imperative to consult an experienced attorney immediately. At Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC, we specialize in defending clients in assault by auto cases and are committed to offering you the most rigorous defense possible. For a free consultation, do not hesitate to contact us.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice. If you are facing criminal charges, consult a qualified attorney to understand your specific legal situation.