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Galloway Township Sexual Assault Defense Attorney

The crimes of sexual assault and criminal sexual contact each have a number of ways they can possibly be committed, which might be confusing to people who are not lawyers or police officers.  They are also serious crimes that hold the potential for years of prison, high fines, and sex offender registration.

If you have been charged with a sex crime in Galloway Township, New Jersey, you should speak to a lawyer about the charges.  The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free, confidential consultations with our experienced criminal defense attorneys.

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Definition of Sexual Assault in New Jersey

New Jersey does not have a crime called “rape.”  Instead, they call this crime “sexual assault.”  Other states call crimes of sexual touching “sexual assault,” but in New Jersey, that offense is called “criminal sexual contact.”  Despite the possible confusion over these terms, New Jersey’s criminal code is quite clear as to what conduct falls under which crimes.

Criminal Conduct

For a crime of sexual assault, under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2, there must be “sexual penetration.”  Sexual penetration is defined to include any oral, anal, or vaginal sex.  This also includes any penetration of the anus or vagina by a penis, finger, hand, or object.  Sexual assault has both an aggravated and non-aggravated version.  This can also include instances where the victim penetrates his or herself at the instruction of the actor.

For a crime of criminal sexual contact, under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3, there must be “sexual contact.”  This includes any touching, either under or over the clothing, of someone’s “intimate parts.”  “Intimate parts” means the “sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin, buttock, or breast.”  The touching, to constitute a crime, must be done to humiliate or demean the victim, or to sexually arouse or gratify the actor.  This can also include instances of the actor touching him/herself in sight of the victim.

Extra Circumstances

Normally, sexual contact and intercourse are not crimes between consenting adults.  Instead, one of the following circumstances must be present to turn these acts into crimes.  Most of these circumstances deal with the age of the victim, age of the actor, or relationship between the victim and actor.

For either sexual assault or criminal sexual contact (the non-aggravated version), at least one of the following conditions must be present:

  • The victim uses physical force or coercion without causing severe injury;
  • The actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim, who is on probation/parole or held in a prison, hospital, or other facility; or
  • The victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the actor is at least four years older.

For one of these crimes to be aggravated, one of the following conditions must be present:

  • The victim is under 13 years old;
  • The act occurs during a completed or attempted aggravated assault, arson, burglary, criminal escape, homicide, kidnapping, or robbery;
  • The actor has a weapon (or something the victim thinks in a weapon);
  • The actor has someone aid/abet them in using physical force or coercion;
  • The actor uses physical force or coercion and causes severe injury; or
  • The actor knows (or should have known) the victim has a physical or mental condition that prevents them from understanding, or is physically or mentally incapacitated or helpless.

It is also an aggravated crime if the victim is between 13 and 16 years old, or a regular crime if the victim is between 16 and 18 years old, and one of the following conditions is present:

  • The victim is related to the actor within three degrees (either by blood or adoption/marriage);
  • The actor’s legal or job status gives them supervisory or disciplinary powers over the victim (e.g. a teacher, boss, etc.); or
  • The actor is the victim’s legal guardian.

Finally, if the victim is under 13 years old, any sexual contact that would otherwise qualify as criminal sexual contact is automatically upgraded to sexual assault (non-aggravated).

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Sentencing for Sexual Assault in NJ

Aggravated sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes that New Jersey has, and it is even punishable by a life sentence.  Criminal sexual contact is a lesser crime, but still serious, with over a year of possible prison time.

Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime.  In New Jersey, first degree crimes are usually punished by 10 to 25 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.  This crime actually has an upgraded punishment between 25 years and life imprisonment.  The law also requires that at least 25 years are served in prison, and that the defendant has no possibility of parole until 25 years have been served.

Sexual assault (non-aggravated) is a second degree crime.  These usually mean five to 10 years in prison with up to $150,000 in fines.  Again, this is upgraded to require at least 15 years in prison, with no parole eligibility until after the defendant serves 15 years.

Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime punished by three to five years in prison and fines up to $15,000.  Criminal sexual contact is a fourth degree crime punished by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Get Help with Your NJ Sex Crime Charges

If you have been charged with sexual assault or criminal sexual contact in New Jersey, it is very important that you speak to a criminal defense attorney about your case.  There is always a possibility of prison time, high fines, and sex offender registration with these crimes.  Call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today for a free consultation, at (609) 616-4956.