A sexual assault charge in New Jersey is a serious matter and a conviction can have life-altering implications. Both the public and the law have an extremely negative view on sex offenders, and garnering sympathy from a judge or a jury is difficult. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you have an experienced and skilled lawyer, like those at Schneider Freiberger, P.C. to represent you in court and fight for your rights.
Understanding Sexual Assault in NJ
In New Jersey, sexual assault is the legal term used for rape. Under statute N.J.S.A. 2C-14-2, sexual assault occurs if there is penetration, not matter how slight, due to physical force or coercion or done while the victim is mentally or physicially incapacitated. Penetration is defined as vaginal, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or penetration of the vagina or anus by a hand, finger, or object by the defendant or upon the defendant’s instruction.
Sexual Assault Scenarios
There are different scenarios of sexual assault, all involving penetration. These variations include situations in which:
- The victim is younger than 13 and the defendant is older than 17.
- The defendant used physical force but did not injure the victim.
- The victim was under the control of the defendant, such as in the case of a prison guard or parole officer.
- The victim is 16-18 and the defendant has control over them.
- The victim is 13-16 and the defendant is older by four years.
New Jersey Sexual Assault Penalties
Sexual assault is an indictable crime in New Jersey, which matches a felony charge in other states. The following are the general penalties for sexual assault. However, depending on the nature of the crime and the age of the persons involved, the penalties can vary. Also note that sexual assault can be considered a type of domestic violence depending on the circumstances.
- Sexual Assault – A Second Degree Crime
- Between 5-10 years in prison
- Fines of up to $150,000
Due to the heavy consequences for a conviction, it is important to talk to a criminal defense lawyer before answering questions, admitting anything to the police or even speaking with investigators.
Aggravated Sexual Assault in NJ
Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious sex crime in New Jersey law. It is considered a first degree crime. This crime still involves sexual penetration, but one or more of the following situations must occur:
- The victim is under 13.
- The assault occurred during the commission of another crime such as robbery, murder, or kidnapping.
- The defendant was armed and threatened to use the weapon in order to achieve sexual advantage over the victim.
- The victim suffered severe injury as a result of physical force or coercion used by the defendant.
- The defendant was assisted or aided by one or more persons in committing the assault.
- The defendant either knew or should have known that the victim was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or mentally defective.
- The victim was between 13-16 and the defendant was either in a familial relationship with the victim, had supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim, or was the parent/guardian of the victim.
New Jersey Aggravated Sexual Assault Penalties
An aggravated sexual assault conviction involves the following penalties:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault – A First Degree Crime
- Between 10-20 years in prison
- Fines of up to $200,000
Additional Consequences of an NJ Sexual Assault Conviction
If you are convicted of a sexual assault charge, in addition to the above mentioned penalties, you will also be forced to register with state and federal sex offender lists as per Megan’s Law. This will involve your picture being posted online where it will be publicly available. In addition, a sex crime conviction can make it difficult if not impossible to find a good place to live, attend college or obtain a decent job thanks to background checks and the easy access to the persons on the sex offender registries.
These registries last a lifetime, so you will remain on the lists forever. If you remain arrest free for 15 years and can prove you are no longer a public safety risk, you can apply to get yourself removed from Megan’s Law registries. However, there is no guarantee your request will be granted. Some convictions will also come with “Parole Supervision for Life” (PSL). PSL involves constant supervision by a parole officer and restrictions on where you can travel and on internet access.
Facing a Sexual Assault Charge in New Jersey?
Sexual assault charges are a serious matter and require expertise and experience to fight effectively. At Schneider Freiberger, P.C., we know how intimidating facing accusations of such a crime are, but we can give you a fighting chance in court. Contact us today to discuss your case so we can start formulating a strong defense.