Recently, professional UFC fighter, Conor McGregor, made the headlines for the wrong type of knock out! McGregor attended the NBA Finals Playoff Game between the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets. McGregor and the Mascot, Bernie, engaged in a skit which was supposed to portray a fight between the two characters.
The skit went wrong and McGregor struck the Mascot twice and Bernie ended up in a local hospital. It appears, however, that the Mascot’s injuries were not extensive, and he was released with some pain medication. This incident brings a up a great opportunity to discuss a very common crime that our criminal law firms handles for clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey—Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault.
Assault is divided into simple and aggravated assault under 2C:12-1 in New Jersey. A simple assault is when a person attempts to cause or purposely knowingly or recklessly causes a bodily injury to another. A simple assault is also if a person negligently causes bodily person to another with a deadly weapon. Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense unless it is committed in a fight or a scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.
In Pennsylvania, a simple assault (Title 18, Section 2701) is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree unless it is a result of mutual scuffle, in which case it is misdemeanor of the third degree. A person can also be charged with a simple assault if he or she recklessly causes a bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
Unlike a simple assault, an aggravated assault in New Jersey is an indictable crime. A person who is guilty of an aggravated assault after he or she causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another. An aggravated assault is also cause if a person or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. An aggravated assault in New Jersey is a crime of the second degree if the Court finds that a person caused serious bodily injury. It is a crime of the third degree if a person attempts to cause only bodily injury with a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon can be practically anything in New Jersey, just like Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, similar to New Jersey, classifies aggravated assault (Title 18, Section 2702) based on the circumstances surrounding the incident; it’s a felony grade crime in the Commonwealth.
Conor McGregor vs. The Miami Heat Mascot – Assault or Accident
There is no question that the Mascot suffered an injury from McGregor’s intentional act but it is unlikely that McGregor will be charged criminally with either aggravated or simple assault. There is no evidence that McGregor had any criminal intent which is a critical element in any criminal charge. While the prosecution can establish criminal intent through reckless conduct, this was a pre-planned event that simply went wrong. This would be a different situation if this was an actual fight (mutual scuffle). While McGregor will not face criminal charges, there is possibility that he could face some type of civil action in the form of a lawsuit for personal injury.
If the Mascot were to file a civil suit, however, he would have to overcome the assumption of risk defense if he agreed to let McGregor strike him in the face. The Mascot may, however, have a claim if he can show by a preponderance of the evidence that McGregor went beyond the assumed risk/consent. For example, the Mascot agreed to one punch and McGregor hit him twice. The second punch could be an issue in a civil lawsuit
How Serious is an Assault Charge?
Maximum Punishments For Crimes & Offenses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
The maximum punishment for a crime of the second degree is ten (10) years of State incarceration and five (5) years of State incarceration for crimes of the third degree. While crimes of the fourth degree carry with them a maximum of punishment of eighteen (18) months of State incarceration. The maximum punishment for a felony of the second degree is 10 years and 7 years for a felony of the 3rd degree. Misdemeanors crimes in Pennsylvania still subject a person to a possible state prison sentence—Misdemeanor of the first degree (5 years); Second Degree (2 years) and 3rd degree (1 year)
Disorderly offenses carry with them a maximum punishment of six (6) months of county incarceration and a $1,000.00 fine, while petty disorderly offenses carry with thirty (30) days of county incarceration and $500.00 fines.
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