Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault in Terms of Criminal Charges?

The arguments turn into fights all the time. It can start with a disagreement, either very mild or quite serious and before you know it, harsh words can turn into flying fists. If you were the person shooting any of the punches, you may find yourself in trouble with the charges of the law-face assault. The difference between being charged with single assault versus aggravated assault in New Jersey depends on the severity of the injuries inflicted.

For example, a bar fight can result in a simple assault attack, classified as a disorderly person crime in New Jersey. If, however, one of the parties involved was seriously injured, the charges may escalate to aggravated assaults at the level of serious crime. Even if the accused person did not intend to cause serious injury, the much more severe penalties for aggravated assault can still apply if the charge results in a conviction. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with assault or aggravated assault, you can contact a professional Assault defense lawyer who has experience in these types of cases and will provide you with the best defense. 


In some jurisdictions, assault is defined as the actions performed with the intention of causing or fear of bodily harm or offensive contact. It does not require that there has been physical contact. In other jurisdictions, however, assault is defined as the attempt to hurt another person.

Beyond physical contact, the assault requires an intentional act. Verbal threats alone are usually not sufficient to constitute an assault. However, a punch (no matter if there is contact) could be considered an assault.

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As for the intention, it does not necessarily mean the intention to cause harm to another person. The person must have only intended to perform the threatening act. The intention of simply scaring the other person can, in some cases, be considered an assault.

Punishment for assault 

In most cases, depending upon the seriousness of the assault, the punishment is a hefty fine and up to six months to a year in the country jail, depending upon the law of the state and it’s legislation and penalty charges. 

Aggravated Assault

Some jurisdictions, such as New York, separate the assault on several levels. The most serious level is first-degree assault, often called aggravated assault. Aggravated assault, in most jurisdictions, requires the use of a dangerous weapon or the intention to commit a serious crime. The assault generally also involves extreme disregard for human life and serious bodily harm to the victim.

In other jurisdictions, the identity of the victim may elevate the charge of assault to that of aggravated assault. Assault on a police officer or firefighter, for example, could be considered aggravated. Likewise, assaults based on the victim’s status as belonging to a protected class, be it because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation can be classified in the category of hate crimes, which constitute aggravated assault. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of aggravated assault incidents increased from 5.2 million in 2017 to 6.0 million in 2018.

Punishment for Aggravated Assault 

An aggravated assault is an infinitely more serious charge than simple assault. The criminals charged with aggravated assault are punished more severely due to the severity of the crime. It is punishable by one to twenty-one years of jail time depending on the severity of the crime coupled with a heavy fine, probation, and victim recompense. 

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