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I've been charged with aggravated assault. What does that mean?

Sometimes, you can't avoid getting into an altercation. Even if you may have avoided the incident at some point, ultimately, you ended up involved and now you face charges for aggravated assault. You probably have some sense that the penalties you face are harsher than they would be for a simple assault or assault, but you may not quite understand why you face the more serious charge.

Facing any sort of criminal charges can cause you a great deal of fear. Not quite understanding the charges makes this fear even worse. If the circumstances surrounding the incident fall into one of the following categories, this may explain why you face a charge for aggravated assault.

Your alleged intent

In the heat of the moment, you may have said or done something to give the impression that you intended to do serious harm to the alleged victim. This would increase an assault charge to aggravated assault. Other circumstances that could supposedly indicate your intent to seriously harm someone include the presence of a weapon or if your behavior was considered reckless. Reckless behavior may be interpreted as having an indifference to the lives of those around you.

You stand accused of using some sort of deadly weapon during the assault

Threatening someone with a weapon that can cause severe injury or death raises the seriousness of the charge. Deadly weapons can be anything — not just guns. Even the pocketknife you carry could fall into this category depending on how you use it. If you put it to someone's throat to keep them from doing you or anyone else harm, it becomes a deadly weapon.

The seriousness of the injuries to the alleged victim

If the injuries suffered by your supposed victim threatens his or her life or results in maiming or disfigurement, you could find yourself charged with aggravated assault. Under some circumstances, however, even minor injuries could cause police to accuse you of this crime if the manner of injury would have produced death under different circumstances. For example, if you shot at someone and caused only a minor injury, you could still face serious charges.

Who the supposed victim is makes a difference

If you allegedly assaulted a police officer, firefighter or another professional, such as an EMT performing his or her duties, you could face a charge of aggravated assault. In addition, if police accuse you of assaulting someone belonging to a protected group, such as one of the following, the charge could be upgraded:

  • People with disabilities
  • People of certain ethnicities
  • People from certain countries
  • People of certain races
  • People of certain religions
  • People of certain sexual orientation

If the supposed victim belongs to one of these classes of people, it may be seen as a hate crime.

You need an aggressive criminal defense

If you face charges for aggravated assault, don't try to go it alone. You face harsh penalties that not only jeopardize your freedom, but also nearly every aspect of your personal and professional lives. You would probably greatly benefit from the services of an aggressive and knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Every aspect of the incident, your contact with police and your arrest require investigation to determine whether the charges fit the crime.

After reviewing all of the facts and evidence, an attorney can determine your options and the next steps that will provide you with the best possible outcome to the charges.

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