It’s never easy when you or one of your loved ones has been charged with committing a crime in Cape May. It’s especially painful when the charges involve allegations of child molestation. Too often, defendants who are charged with these types of offenses find themselves shunned and abandoned by their friends, family, romantic partners, and co-workers, as everyone assumes the worst must be true.
New Jersey imposes some of the nation’s toughest sex crime penalties, so it’s critical to act fast. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, we understand that you need support now more than ever as you go through this difficult time. Don’t let feelings of shame or embarrassment prevent you from getting the legal help you need. Call our Cape May child molestation defense attorneys at (609) 616-4956 to start discussing your situation in a free and completely private consultation. We will keep your information confidential.
Defending Against Sex Crime Charges in Cape May
New Jersey law differentiates between many types of sex crimes against children, which are subject to different criminal penalties depending on the nature and severity of the offense. It is crucial for defendants to have a good understanding of exactly what the charges against them entail. Cape May child molestation charges may involve one or more of the following offenses:
Child Abuse (N.J.S.A. § 9:6-8.21)
Child abuse has a very broad definition. Speaking generally, a person can be charged with child abuse if they create or permit conditions which physically, sexually, or emotionally harm a child (any person under age 18), or expose the child to a risk of such harm. This includes but is not limited to physical injury, sexual abuse, deprivation of necessities, willful abandonment, and excessive use of restraints.
Criminal Sexual Contact (N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3b)
This offense is charged when a defendant has sexual contact with a victim and certain additional factors are present, including but not limited to the following:
- The victim was 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant was at least four years older.
- The victim was 16 or 17 years old and the defendant was related to them or had power over them.
- The defendant used force or coercion.
Endangering the Welfare of Children (N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4)
Child endangerment involves “engag[ing] in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child.” This includes exposing a child to intercourse, anal intercourse, nudity, masturbation, and other prohibited sexual acts. A defendant can also be charged with child endangerment for the creation, distribution, or possession of child pornography, or for other internet activities with children (e.g. chat rooms, webcams, forums).
Luring/Enticing a Child (N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-6)
This includes luring or enticing a child by any means, whether it occurs in person (such as beckoning a child into a vehicle or building) or over the internet (such as sending a child emails or pictures), “with a purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.”
Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault (N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2)
Aggravated sexual assault is more serious than sexual assault. Both involve sexual penetration plus other factors, similar to criminal sexual contact. For instance, a defendant can be charged with aggravated sexual assault if he or she penetrates a victim who is 12 years old or younger, uses physical force, or commits the crime with help from other people.
Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender for Child Molestation Charges in Cape May?
Most child molestation sex crimes are graded as high-level felonies, which are known as indictable crimes in Cape May. Other than murder, sex offenses involving children and teenagers are among the most serious crimes a person can be charged with. New Jersey imposes the following penalties for indictable crimes:
- Fourth Degree
- Fine – Up to $10,000
- Sentence – Up to 18 months
- Third Degree
- Fine – Up to $15,000
- Sentence – Up to 5 years
- Second Degree
- Fine – Up to $150,000
- Sentence – Up to 10 years
- First Degree
- Fine – Up to $200,000
- Sentence – Up to 20 years
While these fines are costly and the sentences severe, most defendants are more concerned with the possibility of becoming a registered sex offender for their child molestation charges in Cape May. If you are convicted, found not guilty by reason of insanity, or are adjudicated delinquent of a sex crime, you will be required to join the New Jersey sex offender registry. You will also be required to periodically re-register and update your information. All of the following information about you will be made publically available online for anyone to see, including your friends, neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and boyfriend/girlfriend:
- Your name and D.O.B.
- Your residential address and work address.
- Where you go to school.
- Your license plate number and the kind of car you drive.
- What you were convicted of.
- Your photograph.
You will also be heavily restricted in terms of where you may work and the types of places you may visit. Despite laws designed to prevent this from happening, you may find yourself being denied housing, turned down for jobs and loans, or even threatened with physical violence. You will not be able to even apply for removal from the registry requirement until at least 15 years have passed from your Cape May child molestation conviction, throughout which time you must remain arrest-free.
Contact Our Cape May Child Molestation Defense Attorney Today
The Cape May child molestation defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych strive to provide compassionate guidance and a listening ear at the same time we prepare an aggressive defense against the accusations. With more than 45 years of practical experience on our side, we are fully equipped to challenge even the most serious and complex of charges. Our Cape May criminal defense lawyers will present you with a clear and straightforward assessment of your case, help you understand your legal options, and fight relentlessly to preserve your liberty.