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State prosecutors and local law enforcement in New Jersey are serious about fighting violent crimes. If convicted of a violent crime such as aggravated assault or attempted murder, the individuals charged with the crime could face between 10 and 20 years in prison, hefty monetary fines, burdensome probationary terms and civil charges involving restitution to the victim.

New Jersey readers may recall the tragic incident involving former Cleveland Browns player Ausar Walcott from last June. According to prosecutors, the 23-year-old NFL player critically injured a 24-year-old man with a single punch that caused the man to undergo rehabilitation for brain injury. Walcott was dropped by the Cleveland Browns shortly after the violent incident became public.

It was recently reported that the grand jury in the incident decided to indict the former NFL player on the lesser charge of aggravated assault rather than the attempted murder charge. While the defense attorney in the matter expressed relief that the jury dropped the attempted murder charge, Walcott still insists that he was acting in self-defense at the time of the alleged violent attack.

A lesser-included offense is a crime that is included in the commission of another crime by definition. The greater crime is generally has additional elements and therefore greater criminal liability. Often times prosecutors charge the greatest possible offense, leaving the defense an opportunity to either negotiate for the lesser included charge during the plea bargaining stage of the criminal proceeding, or to convince the jury that while some evidence may exist there are elements missing.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Former Cleveland Browns player indicted in New Jersey assault," Nov. 1, 2013

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