Inner slider
Picture of Tara Breslow
“Thanks Tara for always believing in me and making me feel like I was your only client. You made the impossible possible. Forever grateful.”

- Gabriel V.
Published on:

Bodyslamming Congressmen Or Kissing Tennis Pros: Assault Simple And Aggravated, Second, Third And Fourth Degree.

Monmouth County Assault Defense Lawyer Tara Breslow-Testa Knows the Different Degrees of Assault. Speak to Tara Before Speaking to Anyone.



The differences between simple and aggravated assault are both subtle and significant – but those differences can mean the difference between liberty and a lifetime of trouble: years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Monmouth County Assault Defense Attorney Tara Breslow-Testa understands the subtleties and significances. Anyone accused of assault – simple or aggravated: second, third or fourth degree – should consult with Tara before speaking to anyone else – including law enforcement. Contact the law offices of Tara Breslow-Testa at  (732) 784-2880.



On May 24, 2017 – the eve of a statewide special election for the United States House of Representatives – Republican Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte grabbed journalist Ben Jacobs by the throat with both hands, “bodyslammed” Jacobs to the ground and punched him. There was audio but no video and there were witnesses. Jacobs broke his glasses and sought medical treatment as a result of the body-slamming.

On May 30, after losing his first round match at the French Open, French tennis pro Maxime Hamout was being interviewed on live TV by journalist Marly Thomas when Hamout grabbed Thomas and  repeatedly tried to kiss her – as she repeatedly resisted.

While Gianforte was cited with misdemeanor assault by the Gallatin County Sheriff, he won the special election and so this alleged law-breaker is going to Washington to become a lawmaker. Journalist Jacobs has not yet said whether he will file a civil lawsuit.

Hamout on the other hand was banned from the French Open and had his accreditation pulled by French tennis authorities. It is not known if journalist Thomas is going to press charges, although she did state later to Huffington Post France: “If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.”

Body-slamming or kissing: Both of these incidents can be classified as assaults. And while New Jersey statutes don’t specify penalties for physically assaulting a journalist, assault covers a broad classification of offenses.

Assault charges come in degrees with variables including the injury sustained by the victim, if the assault was mutual combat or unprovoked, or committed on anyone acting in an official capacity – from cable guy to cop. And also reckless acts committed close to school grounds. The definitions of simple and aggravated assault have many layers – with differences subtle and significant.



The 2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:12-1 state that a person is guilty of “Simple assault” if he or she:

  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.



Conviction of simple assault can result in a sentencing of up to six months in jail, community services, and/or a fine of up to $1,000, restitution, and probation. A conviction for simple assault can also result in the court ordering parole, anger management classes, probation, electronic monitoring, victim restitution and losing the right to own firearms.

Simple assault divides into two categories:

  • Typical Simple Assault – Disorderly Persons Offense: Up to six months in the county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000
  • Simple Assault Involving a Mutual Fight or Scuffle – Petty Disorderly Persons Offense: Up to 90 days in the county jail and a maximum fine of $500



Simple assault can be upgraded to aggravated assault based on a number of factors: Intent, recklessness, injury to victim, occupation of the victim and location of the offense. Aggravated assault is much more complicated than simple assault, has a longer and more detailed definition and comes in degrees.



Punishable by a sentence to serve between five and 10 years in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $150,000. These crimes entail a “presumption of incarceration,” meaning that even first-time offenders must serve time in prison. In some cases, New Jersey’s “No Early Release Act” requires those convicted to complete 85% of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole.



Punishable by a sentence to serve between three and five years in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $15,000. There is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders, meaning that a defendant may avoid incarceration through enrollment in a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention.



Punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.



The New Jersey statutes have a long, more involved definition of “aggravated assault” which begins:

(1) Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury; or

(2) Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

(3) Recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

(4) Knowingly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life points a firearm, as defined in section 2C:39-1f., at or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded; or



Simple assault is upgraded to aggravated assault if the violence is committed on people acting in an official capacity – public or private – which includes law enforcement officers in uniform or not, paid or volunteer firemen, emergency first-aid or medical services personnel, school board members, school administrators, teachers, school bus drivers or other employee of a public or nonpublic school or school board, any employee of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency,  any justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of the Tax Court or municipal judge,  any operator of a motorbus or the operator’s supervisor or any employee of a rail passenger service,  any Department of Corrections employee, county corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, juvenile detention officer, probation officer or any sheriff, undersheriff, or sheriff’s officer,  any employee of a utility or cable TV company, any health care worker, any direct care worker at a State or county psychiatric hospital or State developmental center or veterans’ memorial home.

If someone causes bodily injury while attempting to elude a law enforcement officer on foot or in a vehicle, that is aggravated assault, as is purposely starting a fire or causing an explosion which results in bodily injury to emergency responders.

In New Jersey, pointing or displaying a firearm – real or imitation – or a laser sighting system or device in the direction of a law enforcement officer is aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault can be in the second, third or fourth degree and those degrees also apply to the reckless driving of a vehicle or vessel causing bodily injury – and that includes use of hand-held wireless telephones or committing reckless driving within 1,000 feet of any school property or school crossing zone.



Any assault charge – simple or aggravated – is a serious charge, with personal and/or financial consequences that can last for years or a lifetime. If you are accused of assault, the police will want to question you. You can refuse to be questioned until you have an attorney present, and that can make a significant difference in how you are charged, tried, sentenced or released.

If you have been accused of or charged with any of type of assault offense, it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Monmouth County Assault Defense Attorney Tara Breslow-Testa has extensive experience investigating and successfully defending assault cases for clients in courts across Monmouth County. She will immediately begin an investigation of your case, inform you of the strengths and weaknesses, explain all of your available options, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. To discuss your current situation with Ms. Breslow-Testa free of charge, contact her Monmouth County offices for a free consultation: (732) 784-2880





Contact Information