Our criminal defense attorneys represent individuals charged with a variety of crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; these often involve matters pertaining to physical violence. A very common offense that our law firm deals with is assault. Assault is classified into two (2) categories – simple and aggravated.
How serious is an Assault Charge? Is it felony?
A simple assault (2701 Title 18- Pennsylvania) it is a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania and is disorderly persons offense in New Jersey (2C:12-1a). Aggravated assault (2701 Title 18-Pennsylvania) is a felony crime in Pennsylvania and an indictable crime in New Jersey (2C:12-1b). If a person is convicted of aggravated assault, they typically face a possible lengthy county sentence or even State prison. Whereas a simple assault is more likely a probation sentence upon a conviction, but there are situations where a person can be sentenced to jail.
Recently, Las Vegas Raiders receiver, Davante Adams, was captured on national television allegedly shoving an ESPN cameraman in Kansas City, Missouri. While Adams apologized for the incident, the cameraman has filed a criminal complaint against Adams. There is a difference between a civil and criminal complaint in that a civil complaint is brought by a private person against another person. A criminal complaint, however, ultimately will involve the State or a federal government.
What is the difference between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault?
Adams was charged with simple assault. Simple assault in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is an attempt to cause or causing bodily injury to another person. A person can also commit simple assault if he or she commits or causes bodily injury negligently with a deadly weapon. The law classifies deadly weapons very broadly which means that it doesn’t need to be a gun but can be pretty much an y object.
Aggravated assault occurs when the accused attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes serious bodily injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”. An aggravated assault is also committed when a person causes or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon. There is also an aggravated assault crime reserved for contact with law enforcement and other enumerated person (fire fighter, paramedics, judge) which is beyond the scope of this short article.
Adams isn’t charged with aggravated assault at this time but the prosecution could upgrade the charges if the alleged victim’s injuries are more severe than initially alleged in the criminal complaint.
What were the victim’s injuries in the case?
The laws in Missouri may be different than in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the elements of simple assault are very similar state to state. According to the criminal complaint it is alleged that the victim, Ryan Zebley, sustained whiplash, a headache and a minor concussion as a result of Adam’s shove following the Monday Night Football game.
If convicted Adams faces a maximum 6 months in jail and $1,000.00 fine (This is same maximum sentence for Simple Assault in New Jersey where it is a disorderly persons offense). It is unlikely, however, that Adams will serve any jail time or even receive a criminal conviction. Given that he has no prior criminal history, he is likely eligible for a diversion program in Missouri similar to Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) in Pennsylvania or a Conditional Discharge in New Jersey
Does Davante Adams have a defense to this assault charge in Nevada?
I have reviewed the footage which shows Adams allegedly shoving the cameraman and there is a possible argument that he reacted, albeit inappropriately, to a person immediately stepping in his path. Adams had just finished a very intense football game and on the video the cameraman appears to step directly in Adams path. While the shove from Adams was obviously physical contact, there is a possible argument that Adams was startled and simply reacted without the intent to cause injury to the cameraman.
This is, however, a likely weak self-defense argument based on the size of Adams compared to the cameraman. Again, however, I do not believe that Adams’ case will ever make it to a criminal trial but rather resolve through a diversion program. While the criminal case may resolve quickly and quietly, Adams faces a substantial civil lawsuit. The alleged victim Zebley will likely demand monetary damages for pain and suffering for this incident. The civil case, like the criminal matter, is unlikely proceed to trial but keep in mind that the burden of proof is much lower in civil proceedings (preponderance) than in criminal prosecution (guilt beyond a reasonable doubt).
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