At approximately 12:20 a.m. this morning, a Linden man was stopped on Elizabeth Avenue after he was observed by an officer travelling at a high rate of speed on the wrong side of the road. When the officer approached the vehicle to ask the driver for his credentials, he claimed to smell marijuana. He subsequently asked the driver to exit the vehicle, at which point the alleged struggle began.
According to the officer, the driver pushed him in the face, causing him to lose his eyeglasses and fall backwards into a trailer. The officer regained his footing and then attempted to place the driver under arrest. He purportedly resisted and back-up was summoned to the scene. The driver was ultimately charged with Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer andResisting Arrest, along with a number of motor vehicle offenses. For more information, see theStar Ledger article entitled “Linden man allegedly attacks cop during motor vehicle stop.”
What would normally be charged as a Simple Assault in New Jersey rises to the level of an Aggravated Assault when it is committed against a law enforcement officer (who is the course of his duties). That means that the potential exposure goes from a minimal county jail sentence (which is seldom imposed) to up to 5 years imprisonment in New Jersey State Prison if the officer suffers injury. The charge for Resisting Arrest can carry similar exposure.
Additionally, because both Aggravated Assault and Resisting Arrest are considered to be “violent” crimes, sentencing options are somewhat limited. For instance, often times a jail sentence can be served in the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (“SLAP”), during which you would be required to perform manual labor for a specified number of hours in lieu of being incarceration. However, SLAP will not accept “violent” offenders. Similarly, lawyers are sometimes successful in negotiating a lengthy period of community service work instead of jail time. But again, it may be difficult to convice the sentencing judge to depart from jail time when the underlying crime is a crime of “violence.”
For these reason, if you or a loved one have been charged with a crime that can be characterized as “violent,” it is important to retain experienced legal representation immediately.