Interviewer: Have you seen an increase or decrease in domestic violence cases over the years? It seems like it’s a lot more prevalent in the news?
Lauren Scardella: I don’t know if it’s more prevalent but I think it is probably reported more now. There’s been a definite uptick in reporting although reporting does not necessarily translate into convictions or even full prosecutions because of the reluctance on the part of some victims to go forward with the charges after they have reported the incident.
There is No Typical Age Group When It Comes to Domestic Violence Cases
Interviewer: Is there a typical age for the accused or for the victim?
Lauren Scardella: No. There is no typical age. Domestic violence doesn’t disproportionately impact one age group over another.
The Evidence Needed to Prosecute An Assault or a Domestic Violence Case
Interviewer: For an assault case or a domestic violence case, what sort of evidence is needed to prosecute?
Lauren Scardella: That depends on what kind of assault. New Jersey divides assault into two basic categories: simple assault and aggravated assault. For a simple assault, all that’s required is proof that the defendant attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. There are two other circumstances that would constitute simple assault, but this is the most common one. And the bodily injury standard is exceptionally low. Bodily injury in New Jersey means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
As Long as a Victim is Willing to Testify they Don’t Have to Show Physical Injury in a Domestic Violence Case
If I poke you and you feel physical pain from it, that’s enough. That’s bodily injury. It’s a very low standard. If somebody calls the police and says, “My boyfriend slapped me,” but there’s no physical evidence of it that is visible, that’s okay. As long as the victim is willing to testify, they don’t have to show any visible physical injury as long as she testifies that she felt pain from it the slap, the bodily injury standard is met.
There are Many Different Types of Aggravated Assault Charges in New Jersey
With aggravated assault, the standard is a bit different. There are many different kinds of aggravated assault in New Jersey. The circumstances that constitute aggravated assault could be anything from assault by auto to causing serious bodily injury, attempting to cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon or recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon. If you point a firearm at somebody under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, that’s an aggravated assault.
Assaulting a Police Officer is Considered to be an Aggravated Assault
Another type of aggravated assault is committing a simple assault on a law enforcement officer. The assault statute is one of the longer and more complicated statutes in the New Jersey criminal code and encompasses a wide range of behavior.