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What Counts As A “Serious Injury” In New Jersey Criminal Cases?


The exact definition of “serious injury” may be crucial if you face criminal charges. Generally speaking, penalties increase based on the severity of an alleged victim’s injuries. If you were accused of causing these injuries, part of your defense strategy may revolve around the exact details of their medical issues. What “counts” as a serious injury in New Jersey?

Why Does the Definition of “Serious Injury” Matter in New Jersey? 

Certain crimes carry more severe penalties if you cause serious injuries. A clear example is aggravated assault. You may face this charge if you carry out an assault that causes a serious bodily injury. If prosecutors can establish that you caused a serious injury, you will face aggravated assault charges rather than “simple assault” charges. As a result, you may be convicted of a second degree crime.

The penalty for a second degree crime is between 5-10 years in prison. In contrast, a “simple assault” may result in a six-month jail sentence. This highlights the potential effect of a serious injury on your sentencing. Note that in theory, you could face this penalty for simply “attempting” to cause a serious injury during an assault.

You might also face heightened penalties for leaving the scene of an accident involving a serious injury. If prosecutors can prove that someone was seriously injured in the crash, you may face a crime of the third degree. A crime of the third degree carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, with a mandatory minimum of three years behind bars. In contrast, leaving the scene of an accident with no serious injuries is a much less serious offense that may lead to a maximum jail sentence of three months.

What Is the Definition of a Serious Bodily Injury in New Jersey? 

The definition of a serious injury may vary between New Jersey laws. In the context of aggravated assault, a serious injury is something that “creates a substantial risk of death.” This encompasses a wide range of injuries. It also depends on the medical issues of each alleged victim. For example, an injury might be more deadly to someone with existing conditions compared to a healthy person. New Jersey also provides a few examples of serious injuries under its aggravated assault laws:

  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of bodily member (amputation)
  • Impairment of an organ

The definition of a serious injury is slightly different in New Jersey’s hit-and-run laws. However, the two definitions are virtually identical. Examples include disfigurement, amputations, permanent brain damage, spinal cord injuries, and other common auto injuries. Note that you do not need to be aware of these serious injuries to face heightened hit-and-run penalties.

Find a Violent Crime Defense Lawyer in New Jersey 

Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law has been assisting defendants with violent crime charges for many years. If you are accused of causing a serious injury in a hit-and-run or assault, effective legal representation is especially important. Contact our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers today to learn more about your legal options.



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Phillip J. Murphy,
Attorney At Law
Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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New City, New York 10956

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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