Elizabeth Man Accused Of Assault & Weapons Violations Secures Release At Detention Hearing
Union County Detention Hearing Defense Lawyers
They say that truth is often stranger than fiction. This case seems to that prove principle correct once again. A tavern owner in Elizabeth was accused this week of biting his girlfriend during a fight. After a court appearance, the judge released the tavern owner to the custody of the victim’s ex-husband. Crazy no?
Michael Santos, the owner of Nugent’s Tavern in Elizabeth New Jersey, was involved in an altercation with his girlfriend. The ensuing police call and investigation revealed that Santos’ girlfriend had bite marks on her back. A search of the apartment incident to Santos’ arrest revealed an arsenal of weapons. Specifically, they found 16 handguns, 15 rifles and eight shotguns. One of rifles is an assault weapon – a Ruger Mini-14 – that is banned in New Jersey. Six of the 16 handguns were not registered to Santos. Santos was charged with for assault, terroristic threats, resisting arrest, and unlawful possession of a weapon charges against Santos.
During the detention hearing held at the Union County Superior Court in Elizabeth, Santos brought in a number of character references to help his position. Some of the character letters indicated that Santos has deep ties to the community, runs fundraisers at his bar, is loyal to his employees, and is a non-violent person. The victim’s ex-husband also testified that the accused is a “good guy” who is a “positive influence” on his son.
The judge presiding over the detention hearing concluded that were conditions that could be imposed that would adequately protect the public short of detaining Mr. Santos. Accordingly Mr. Santos was released rather than detained with conditions that included house arrest, electronic monitoring and no contact with the victim.
Simple Assault in Union County
New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1a sets forth the law of Simple Assault. A person can be guilty of simple assault in three situations. If you:
- Attempt to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another; or
- Negligently cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Required State of Mind for Simple Assault. The statute above has a number of terms describing a person’s mental state, such as “purposely” and “negligently.” Those terms have specific meanings in the law. Here is a breakdown of those terms:
- Purposely in this context means that your conscious object (reason for doing something) is to cause bodily injury to another person.
- Knowingly means that you know it is practically certain that your actions will cause bodily injury.
- Recklessly means that you did not necessarily want to cause bodily injury, but that you behaved with such extreme disregard of the risk of harm to others, that harm was likely to occur. (Driving drunk is a common example of reckless conduct)
- Negligently means that you again did not necessarily want to cause harm, but that you should have been aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that bodily injury would result from your conduct.
Grading and Penalties for Simple Assault.
Simple assault is typically a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. However, if a simple assault occurred in a fight, in which the parties mutually consented to the fight (i.e., both people were willing participants in the fight or scuffle) then it is considered a lesser offense, a petty disorderly persons offense. A petty disorderly persons offense carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail, and up to a $500 fine.
In the Santos case, it is more likely that the charge would be a disorderly persons offense. Although the couple was alleged to have been fighting, it does not appear that Santos biting his girlfriend would fall under the notion of a mutual fight. Santos’ girlfriend did not seem to consent to a physical confrontation.
Simple Assault Lawyers in Union County
All cases have their unusual facts. With regard to Santos, the biting and the fact that he was released to the victim’s ex-husband are real “head-scratchers.” That said, the fact that Santos’ attorney used character references to keep Santos out of jail. The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are experts at using whatever evidence is available to help our clients. Call our Cranford office today at 908-272-1700. The first consultation with one of our top lawyers is completely free.
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Union County Detention Hearings