To many people, the term assault refers to physical violence. They know that they could face assault charges if they punch or shove another person and the other party suffers an injury. However, different definitions of assault, depending on the state, can lead to confusion and inaccurate assumptions about when someone might face charges or how they can defend themselves.
If you got into a physical altercation with someone else in New Jersey but the other party did not suffer a lasting physical injury, can they still ask the state to prosecute you for what occurred?
Injuries are not a necessity for assault charges
Simple assault takes on three forms under New Jersey state law. Accidentally harming someone with a weapon is simple assault. So, too, is the act of intentionally injuring someone else. However, the third definition of simple assault really expands the pool of people who might face assault charges.
Actions or words that put someone else in immediate fear for their physical safety also constitute assault. Telling someone you intend to hurt them or using your body language to menace them could also constitute assault under the New Jersey definition.
Even if you never physically touched the other individual, their fear of your actions might still lead to them filing a police report and the state pressing charges.
How can you defend against assault allegations?
Fighting back against a charge based on someone else’s fear requires a careful strategy. There are many possible options. You could prove, for example, that you weren’t the one who said or did those things by presenting an alibi. Even phone records could help show that you weren’t nearby when the altercation supposedly took place.
If there is evidence of your involvement, there are other defense options. Reviewing security camera footage or talking to witnesses could help you demonstrate that their actions after your interaction with them did not indicate they felt afraid. Statements that they made directly to you or actions they took after the alleged incident could also undermine their claims of feeling fear for their safety or victimized by your behavior.
Learning the basics of New Jersey criminal law will make it easier for you to plan your defense against assault charges.