An aggravated assault may arise out of operation of a motor vehicle. This pedigree of aggravated assault is commonly referred to as Assault by Auto. Where the resulting injury is “serious”, the Assault by Auto is a Second Degree. Serious bodily injury is defined as injury that involves a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or loss of function of a bodily member or organ. Where an injury falls short and is only “significant”, it gives rise to a Third Degree Aggravated Assault by Auto.
There are basically three (3) ways in which a person can be held accountable for assault by auto. First, where a motorist acts with the purpose or intent to collide with a victim, that is an assault by auto. The degree of a charge for an intentional collision hinges on the nature of the injury suffered by the victim (e.g. serious, significant, minor). Second, when an individual acts recklessly (e.g. driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, extreme speeding, etc.) and this results in injury to another, that is also an assault by auto. Whether this conduct is a Second Degree, Third Degree or even Fourth Degree Aggravated Assault, again depends on the extent of the resulting injury. Third, an assault by auto arises when an individual causes bodily injury while fleeing or elude police contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b), or while joyriding in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-10(c). This variety of assault by auto is also a Second Degree crime.