I Was In A Car Accident – Now I'm Being Charged With Assault By Auto?
Not all car accidents warrant an assault by auto (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) charge. If a person is driving on the Garden State Parkway near Toms River and causes an auto accident with injuries because the driver was distracted and using their cell phone then they may be charged with assault by auto. In the same scenario if a person is swerving to avoid debris in the road or if a deer runs into the path of their car then the same accident would not warrant the charge.
What Is Assault By Auto (N.J.S.A 2C:12-1)?
The crime of assault is a serious crime in New Jersey that can be committed in many different ways. Defendants who are charged with assault in Ocean County can violate N.J.S.A 2C:12-1 using weapons, objects, and even motor vehicles. N.J.S.A 2C:12-1(c) specifically prohibits assault by auto in the State of New Jersey in order to protect citizens from the serious bodily injury that can result when being struck by a moving vehicle. Assault by auto offenses are unique due to the different circumstances surrounding these incidents. Distinguishable from a common aggravated assault, which takes into consideration factors such as the weapons or items used and the defendant's mind state an assault by auto primarily focuses on the injury caused by the accident. If there are any aggravating factors, such as the use of alcohol or distracted driving this can result in a charge of a higher degree.
Degrees for Assault By Auto (N.J.S.A 2C:12-1(C) in New Jersey
An assault by auto can carry different consequences depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Examples of the different types of charges for an assault by auto include: a disorderly person's offense, crime in the third or fourth degree or can be compounded with other offenses.
Assault By Auto – Fourth Degree Crime
Assault by auto is a disorderly persons or 4th degree crime in New Jersey in its most basic form. This means that the driver was driving recklessly and caused either injury (disorderly persons) or serious bodily injury (4th degree). If the prosecution is able to prove that a driver was holding a cell phone while driving, an inference of recklessness is applicable. Because the legal difference between “injury” and “serious bodily injury” is misunderstood by most people, it is important to find an experienced criminal defense attorney for representation.
Assault By Auto – Third Degree Crime
Assault by auto is a 3rd degree crime when committed while intoxicated or in conjunction with a refusal charge. This means that a prosecutor must prove the necessary elements of a DWI or refusal charge on top of the assault by auto charge. When prosecuted as a 3rd degree crime, the violator could face a prison sentence of 3-5 years and fines totaling $15,000.
Assault By Auto – Second Degree Crime
Assault by auto is elevated to a 2nd degree crime when a 3rd degree crime is shown by prosecution in addition to the injury taking place in a school zone. A 2nd degree crime warrants a 5-10 year prison sentence and up to $150,000 in fines.
Assault by Auto Defense Attorney
Each year driver's in Toms River, Brick, and Lacey are pulled over and charged with DWI. Ocean County prosecutes many assault by auto cases, subjecting drivers to severe punishment. Any slight negligent, reckless or careless behavior can result in a situation where a pedestrian is injured and the extent of the harm suffered will be different in depending on the situation.
If you or a loved one are facing assault by auto charges in Ocean County it's important to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Call 732-820-1256 for a FREE consultation.