There are two forms of sexual assault in New Jersey. These crimes are New Jersey’s version of rape crimes, and have very serious potential prison sentences, fines, and registration as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side during these challenging times is one of the strongest defenses you have to protect your rights, challenge the evidence against you, and work toward keeping your freedom.
If you or your child was charged with a sexual assault crime in New Jersey, talk to an attorney today. The Collingswood, New Jersey sexual assault defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free, completely confidential consultations for those charged with a crime. Call (609) 616-4956 today to schedule your consultation with our lawyers.
Collingswood Sexual Assault Definition
The sexual assault crimes in New Jersey are broken down into two levels: “simple” sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. Simple sexual assault is a crime of penetration with some circumstances that show there is no consent or there was force used. Aggravated sexual assault has more serious circumstances where extreme force was used, the victim was very young, or there were other circumstances indicating the victim was seriously taken advantage of.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(b) and (c) state the definition of sexual offense. Under subsection (b), it is sexual offense crime to have sexual contact with a victim under 13 years old, even if there is no penetration. Under subsection (c), it is a sexual offense to have sexual intercourse (with penetration) under any of the following circumstances:
- The actor uses physical force or coercion (without causing severe personal injury);
- The victim is in prison, institutionalized, or on probation/parole, and the actor has authority over them;
- The victim is 16-18 years old and the actor is related to the victim, has supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim, or is a parent or guardian of the victim; or
- The victim is 13-16 years older, and the actor is at least four years older.
Under more serious circumstances, the crime’s seriousness is increased, and so are the penalties. Under § 2C:14-2(a), aggravated sexual assault is penetration under any of these circumstances:
- The victim is under 13 years old;
- The victim is 13-16 years old, and the actor is a family member, has supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim, or is the victim’s parent/guardian;
- The act occurs during a robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, or criminal escape (either attempted or completed);
- The actor is armed, or makes the victim think they are armed;
- The actor has help from another person, and uses force or coercion;
- The actor uses physical force that causes severe personal injury; or
- The actor should know the victim is physically or mentally helpless or incapacitated, or lacks the understanding or ability to consent to the act.
These circumstances do not include a scenario where there is sex without consent, but instead requires some additional element like inability to consent, force, or abuse of authority. These kinds of elements are a required part of the crime, and you cannot be convicted unless the government proves these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Collingswood
Both crimes, simple and aggravated sexual assault, are serious crimes, carrying some of the harshest penalties in New Jersey. The crime of simple sexual assault is a second degree crime. This is punished with up to $150,000 in fines and 5-10 years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault carries increased fines and penalties, as it is a first degree crime on par with murder. This carries 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
In addition, you may be required to register as a sex offender under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. This may require registration for a long period of time, allowing the government to track where you live, what you do, and require you to report your sex offender registration to neighbors and employers. This can be an intense burden, which often lasts beyond many prison sentences.
Fortunately for those charged with crimes like sexual assault, the law requires the government to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of any offense. This means that the government must prove penetration, and any additional elements such as force or coercion. This could be a difficult case to prove, especially with most of the details coming from private situations. Talk to an attorney about options for suppressing evidence, reducing charges, and fighting the case.
Our Collingswood Sexual Assault Attorneys Can Help
The South Jersey sexual assault attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to take your case and fight the evidence against you. Our Collingswood criminal defense attorneys offer strategic, discreet consultations. For your free, confidential consultation with our attorneys, call (609) 616-4956 today.