Criminal sexual contact is codified under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3. This statute creates two crimes: criminal sexual contact under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3(b), and aggravated criminal sexual contact under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3(a), which is more serious.
Both offenses involve violations of New Jersey laws against sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2. If a person takes certain actions described in N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2, they can be charged with criminal sexual contact, or the aggravated form of the offense.
Even if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to prove that the defendant committed sexual assault, they may still be able to charge the defendant with criminal sexual contact, another New Jersey sex crime with serious penalties. If convicted, the defendant faces prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
What Does it Mean to Be Charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact?
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3(b), a person commits criminal sexual contact when they allegedly commit acts of sexual assault as described under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(c)(1) through N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(c)(4), which include:
- Using force or coercion, without causing severe injury.
- Committing the crime against a victim who:
- Is on parole or probation.
- Is 16 or 17 years old.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3(a), criminal sexual contact is aggravated when the defendant allegedly commits acts of aggravated sexual assault as described under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(a)(2) through N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(a)(7), which include:
- Committing the crime:
- Against a victim who is related to the defendant and who is 13, 14, or 15 years old.
- While armed with a weapon.
- With aid from another person, using coercion or force.
New Jersey Criminal Penalties for Felonies: Fines and Prison Sentencing
Criminal sexual contact and the aggravated form of the offense are both indictable crimes, which are equivalent to felonies in other states. Felonies are the most serious types of crimes, carrying higher fines and longer sentences than misdemeanors (disorderly persons offenses).
New Jersey separates indictable crimes into four groups by degree: fourth degree crimes, third degree crimes, second degree crimes, and first degree crimes. First degree crimes are the most serious.
Criminal sexual contact is a fourth degree crime (fourth degree felony) under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3(b). The penalties for a fourth degree crime in Atlantic City can include:
- A fine of up to $10,000.
- A prison sentence of up to 18 months.
Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime (third degree felony) under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3(a). Criminal penalties for New Jersey crimes of the third degree can include:
- A fine of up to $15,000.
- A prison sentence of up to five years.
Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender for Sexual Contact with a Minor?
Sex crimes that require the offender to register as a sex offender are called registerable offenses. Criminal sexual contact is a registerable offense when it involves a minor (a person under age 18). The aggravated offense is also registerable. It is mandatory for defendants who are convicted of these offenses to register as sex offenders under N.J.S.A. § 2C:7-2. Registration under Megan’s Law is permanent, which means you will be required to continue reregistering and updating your information for the rest of your life.
The New Jersey sex offender registry can be viewed online by anyone with an internet connection, including potential employers and landlords. It will display your picture, the nature of the your offense, your home address, your license plate, your date of conviction, and other information about you. If you fail to comply with the registration requirements, you can be charged with additional crimes, and become subject to additional fines and sentencing.
Contact Our Atlantic City Sex Crime Attorneys for Legal Help
If you or someone you know has been charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact in Atlantic County or Cape May County, you should talk about your situation with an Atlantic City sexual assault attorney right away. Criminal sexual contact is a very serious allegation, and it is important to start formulating a strategy as soon as possible. With aggressive, skillful representation by a knowledgeable defense lawyer, it may be possible to have the charges dropped, or even have the case dismissed.
Often, people are embarrassed to come forward about being accused of a sex crime, which prevents them from seeking legal help. However, it is crucial that you do not delay if you or one of your family members has been arrested for criminal sexual contact in Atlantic City.
Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956 to set up a free legal consultation. Your information will be kept confidential. Our team of New Jersey defense attorneys has over 45 years of combined experience representing defendants.