The terms “assault and battery” are commonly used together as if they were conjoined twins — but they aren’t. In fact, in New Jersey, “battery” isn’t actually a criminal charge at all. 

A battery is usually defined as any hostile or unwanted physical contact between two parties, whether that means someone threw a punch at another person during an argument or merely flicked their hat off their head while making a point. When that kind of offense is committed in New Jersey, the charge is one of two categories of assault: simple assault or aggravated assault.  

The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault

Assault charges in this state are broken down the following ways:

Simple assault:  This is considered a misdemeanor and could carry up to 6 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

Simple assault falls under disorderly conduct laws in New Jersey. Even if no physical contact was made; something as simple as a menacing or intimidating physical presence, or a verbal altercation where threats were made can be classified as a simple assault. If a physical altercation takes place between mutually consenting participants, it is considered a petty person offense. Petty persons offenses are also a misdemeanor and carry up to 30 days in jail. 

Aggravated assault: Causing, or attempting to cause bodily injury is aggravated assault.

If a deadly weapon was used, even pointing a firearm, then it is also considered aggravated assault. A component of “reckless disregard for life,” often qualifies the charge to be enhanced to aggravated. 

If these legal distinctions are confusing, you are not alone. To develop a solid defense against assault charges, it is best to rely upon legal counsel that has experience in violent crimes