Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Monday, July 6, 2015

New Jersey Jury Convicts Man Following Harrowing Shooting on PATH Train

What is ‘aggravated assault’ under New Jersey law? 

In June, 2015, a jury sitting in Hudson County Superior Court convicted a 36-year old man of two counts of aggravated assault – as well as several other lesser offenses – following a frightening incident onboard a PATH train idling in the Jersey City New Port station on August 25, 2013. The defendant, who shot two passengers as well as himself, could face up to 40 years in prison under New Jersey’s sentencing guidelines, which take into account the brutality and recklessness of a particular crime. 

In this scenario, the defendant opened fire following an alleged altercation between himself and another passenger. At the time, the train was loaded with passengers – including several infants and small children – who can be seen “running for their lives” in video surveillance footage. According to the prosecution, the defendant brandished his firearm unprovoked and began assailing the crowd with bullets. However, his New Jersey criminal defense attorney painted quite a different picture, highlighting the alleged overwhelming number of intoxicated passengers who were provoking the defendant and “did not care.”

Nonetheless, the defendant is expected to receive his sentence on August 7, 2015 – which will take into account prior weapons violations. 

Assault vs. aggravated assault

Simple assault is defined as conduct in which “[a] person….attempts, by physical menace, to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” From there, the facts surrounding the situation will help determine whether the prosecution could possibly upgrade the charge to one of aggravated assault, as was the case in this criminal conviction. Under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:12-1, aggravated assault is defined to include conduct involving a deadly weapon, extreme indifference to human life (as opposed to negligence), or causing bodily injury while fleeing from the commission of a crime. In other words, a conviction of “aggravated” assault requires proof from the prosecution that the defendant’s actions involved extreme and egregious behavior. 

If you are facing an assault charge and would like to speak to a reputable attorney about your situation, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of New Jersey’s Sitzler & Sitzler today by calling 609-267-1101. 

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