Thanks for using Just Answer. Here is the text of the section of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice under which you were charged:
a. Simple assault. A person is guilty of assault if he: (1) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or (2) Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or (3) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.
I'm not sure if you were charged with a disorderly persons or a petty disorderly persons offense, but I will give you the penalty for both, under New Jersey law.
For a disorderly persons offense, the maximum jail sentence is 6 months, and the maximum fine is $1,000. For a petty disorderly persons offense, the maximum jail sentence is 30 days, and the maximum fine is $500. Also, a defendant is required to pay additional costs upon being convicted of or pleading guilty to either type of charge. These costs include $33 court costs, $50 for the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, and $75 for the Safe Neighborhoods Services Fund.
If you plead guilty to either type of offense, it will be reported as a conviction on your criminal record. Once a conviction gets on your record, it can often be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to remove. Therefore, you may want to consult with a New Jersey attorney who practices criminal law in order to explore your options before you simply go in an plead guilty.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
In my experience as a prosecutor, it is difficult for an unrepresented person to enter into a plea agreement. I'm not saying it is impossible, but, it is difficult. Also, since disorderly persons offenses are the lowest category of offenses under New Jersey law, there would be nothing to reduce them to via a plea agreement. The charges would either have to be dismissed outright, or the defendant would have to be acquitted at trial. It might be possible to convince the prosecutor to agree to a lesser penalty, such as fines and costs only, as opposed to jail time.
Also, although disorderly persons offenses are technically not "crimes" under New Jersey law, a conviction will result in a criminal record that is not eligible for expungement until after 5 years have passed.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).