In the State of New Jersey, offenses are characterized at indictable offenses and disorderly persons offenses rather than felonies and misdemeanors. Generally speaking, an indictable offense is more serious and similar to a felony and therefore carries a more severe penalty of over 6 months in jail. A disorderly persons offense is usually a more minor offense similar to a misdemeanor that carries a less severe penalty.
Regarding assault and battery charges, they can fall into the category of indictable offenses or disorderly persons offenses depending on the unique situation of the case. Cases of simple assault will carry a minor sentence while aggravated assault will carry one more severe. The severity of the penalty will take the following into account:
- The seriousness of the injury.
- If you were acting purposely – i.e. causing the injury on purpose rather than accidentally.
- If you were acting knowingly – i.e. knowing that your action would cause the injury
- If you were acting recklessly – i.e. being aware that your actions could cause injury but acting regardless.
- If you were acting with extreme indifference towards human life – i.e. acting regardless of the high probability of severe injury.
- If you were using a deadly weapon, for example a firearm, knife, brick or any object that can reasonably be assumed to be used as a weapon.
What happens if you are charged with an indictable offense?
Indictable offenses are handled by the Superior court within the country where the alleged offense was committed. Once charged, you will be taken before a judge and advised of your rights and the charges against you – but you will be unable to enter a plea at this stage. You will be able to apply for bail at this point.
Before your case can go to trial, it has to be reviewed by a Grand Jury. This process is simply to determine whether or not there is enough evidence for your case to go to trial, it does not determine your guilt or innocence.
If the Grand Jury decides that there is enough evidence against you for the charges to go forward, formal charges will be filed in a process known as your arraignment where you will be able to enter a plea. At this point, you will be able to enter a plea bargain that, if both parties accept the arrangement, will be the end of your case.
If your case does not result in a plea agreement, it will proceed to a trail by jury. After your trial is complete, a verdict will be decided upon. After this point, you may decide to challenge your sentence and the verdict in an appeal.
Sentences can include up to 10 years of jail time and fines of up to $150,000.
What happens if you are charged with a disorderly persons offense?
Although disorderly persons offenses are more minor, it is important to know that they can carry stiff fines and jail time and, if convicted, the charges will show up on a criminal background check.
Once you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, your case will be heard in a municipal court in front of a judge, as there are no Grand Juries or trials by jury for these cases. This may involve multiple appearances in court before the matter is resolved and a verdict is handed out.
Sentences in these cases can include probation, a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 6 months behind bars.
Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights
If you have been charged with an offense, no matter how minor, you can benefit from effective legal representation. Dennis Calo, a former prosecutor, offers over 40 years of experience and insight into both sides of the legal system to build a strong and robust defense for each of his valued clients.
If you want a criminal defense attorney that you can trust to defend your assault and battery case professionally and aggressively, contact us today and find out how Dennis Calo can help you. For more information, visit www.criminaldefense-nj.com.
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