Today, I received another telephone call from an individual who attempted to defend a simple assault charge on his own. The result was a conviction for simple assault in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1. The man was extremely concerned about the impact the criminal record would have on his employment, as well as his immigration status. We are going to file an application for post-conviction relief to vacate the conviction and, if that fails, an appeal is contemplated.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1, an individual may be found guilty of “simple assault” in New Jersey under any of three scenarios. The first situation is where an individual attempts to cause or recklessly, knowingly, or purposely causes bodily injury to another. The second scenario is where bodily injury is negligently caused with a deadly weapon. The third and final setting is where an individual attempts to put another in fear of serious bodily injury through physical menace. Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense except where it is the result of a fight by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.
The error made by the individual who retained our office today was in attempting to defend himself. He candidly had no business playing around where the potential ramifications were so significant; unless or until we vacate the simple assault conviction, he shall possess a criminal record. There is little doubt in my mind that this outcome would have been avoided had we represented him. I think that the situation represents a perfect example of how individuals make the mistake of believing that a charge like simple assault does not require an attorney by virtue of not thinking through about what the potential ramifications shall be if they are convicted. It really is not worth the risk in my view given the marginal expense of hiring NJ Simple Assault Lawyers. I am certain that this individual will not make the same mistake again.