Sexual assault is the name New Jersey has chosen for its rape crime. While the name “sexual assault” may make it sound like a lighter offense, be assured that this is an extremely serious crime. Aggravated sexual assault is an even more severe rape crime, with increased penalties. Both crimes heavily punish these sex offenses, and may require registration as a sex offender on top of high fines and jail time.
If you or a loved one was accused of a sexual assault crime, talk to an attorney right away. The Gloucester City, New Jersey sexual assault defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych understand that these kinds of charges are sensitive, personal matters. We offer free, completely confidential consultations to help you understand the charges against you and the potential strategies for your criminal defense. For your consultation, call (609) 616-4956 today.
Sexual Assault in Gloucester City
Though “sexual assault” is sometimes used as a general term for crimes of inappropriate touching or come-ons, New Jersey’s sexual assault crime is more serious. In New Jersey, there is a separate crime for “sexual contact” that includes anything short of penetration that is done without permission or against certain people (such as minors). This has both simple and aggravated forms, based on the circumstances of the crime.
The crime of sexual assault is the crime of having sex with someone under conditions where they do not consent, or where force is used. Specifically, N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(b) states that it is a crime to have sexual contact (less than penetration) with someone under 13 years old. This only applies if the actor is four years older than the victim, or more. Alternatively, under § 2C:14-2(c) is the crime of sexual penetration with another, while one of these circumstances is present:
- The actor uses physical force or coercion, but does not cause 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, the actor has supervisory/disciplinary authority over the victim, or the actor is the victim’s parent or guardian; or
- The victim is 13-16 years old (and the actor is four years older than the victim, or more).
Aggravated sexual assault is an upgraded form of the simple sexual assault crime. New Jersey’s crimes code separates these two crimes into a lesser crime and a more severe crime. This means that aggravated sexual assault often has elements of force or violence that make the crime more severe. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(a), aggravated sexual assault is the crime of “sexual penetration” alongside any of the following factors:
- The victim is under 13 years old;
- The victim is 13-16 years old and the actor is related to the victim, the actor has supervisory/disciplinary authority over the victim, or the actor is a parent or guardian;
- The act occurs during a robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, or criminal escape;
- The actor is armed with a weapon (or makes the victim think they are armed);
- The actor is aided by another person and uses force or coercion;
- The actor uses force or coercion and causes severe personal injury; or
- The actor should know the victim is helpless or incapacitated, physically or mentally, or is otherwise unable to consent.
Ultimately, looking at these elements, a few things become apparent. First, this crime requires force, incapacitation, or inability to consent, and does not apply to a simple lack of affirmative consent. Second, proving this crime requires intimate details about the events leading up to the act, and during the act. The government often has difficulty proving details like this, and a criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the evidence or get charges reduced on these grounds.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Gloucester City
Both simple and aggravated sexual assault are serious crimes, carrying substantial penalties. First, since these are sex crimes, there is always the possibility of needing to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. On top of this, sexual assault is a second degree crime, and aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime in New Jersey. These are the two most severe levels of crime under New Jersey law.
A second degree crime like simple sexual assault is punished by 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
A first degree crime like aggravated sexual assault is punished by 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
Our Gloucester City, NJ Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys Can Help
The sexual assault defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those accused of serious crimes, and fight to get evidence suppressed, charges reduced, and cases dismissed. For a free, confidential consultation on your charges, contact our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.