Being charged with a sex offense can often be confusing, disorienting, and life-shattering. Not only is a crime like this a serious black mark on your criminal record, but it can also destroy your reputation and your relationships. It is vital that any time you are charged with a crime like this, you have an experienced criminal defense attorney review your case.
The Haddonfield, New Jersey sexual assault attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those charged with sexual assault in New Jersey, fight to get charges reduced or dropped, and challenge the penalties at sentencing. For your free, completely confidential consultation, call (609) 616-4956 today.
Sexual Assault Crimes in Haddonfield, New Jersey
There are two levels of sexual assault in New Jersey: “simple” sexual assault, and the more severe aggravated sexual assault. Many New Jersey crimes are divided into two levels, where one form is the basic offense, and the aggravated version has increased levels of violence or harm that warrant higher penalties.
Simple sexual assault under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2 can be committed in multiple ways. Under subsection (b) of the statute, it is sexual assault to have sexual contact with someone under 13 years old. This includes any sexual contact or touching, even without sexual penetration. Otherwise, sexual assault under subsection (c) requires sexual penetration, plus one of the following additional elements:
- The actor uses physical force or coercion against a victim (but there is no severe personal injury);
- The victim is in prison, on probation/parole, or is institutionalized, and the actor has some authority over the victim;
- The victim is 16-18 years old and the actor is related to the victim, has supervisory/disciplinary power 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 or more years older than the victim.
The upgraded form of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, is the same crime, except the list of additional circumstances is altered to include more violent or violative conduct. Under § 2C:14-2(a), aggravated sexual assault is penetration with one of these additional circumstances:
- The victim is younger than 13 years old;
- The victim is 13-16 years old, and the actor is related to the victim, has some supervisory/authoritative power over the victim, or is the victim’s parent/guardian;
- The act occurs during a robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, or criminal escape – whether completed or attempted;
- The actor is armed, or does something to make the victim think he is armed;
- The actor has the assistance of another person, and uses force or coercion;
- The actor causes severe personal injury by using physical force, or
- The actor should have known that the victim was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, unable to understand what was happening, or was otherwise unable to consent.
These elements could include rape that occurs through physical violence, while the victim is drugged, during another crime, or against a very young victim. Because of this, aggravated assault is an extremely serious offense.
Otherwise, note that there must be the presence of force, inability to consent, or another aggravating factor for the sexual act to qualify as sexual assault. This crime does not include simple sexual activity without consent, and requires more serious acts to overcome the victim’s lack of consent.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in New Jersey
Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are second and first degree crimes, respectively. This may be confusing to many, who understand “sexual assault” to mean generally inappropriate touching or contact. As explained above, sexual assault is (in most cases) a crime of sexual penetration using force or other means to overcome the victim’s lack of consent. Regardless of the official name of the crime, sexual assault is New Jersey’s equivalent of a rape offense.
Because of this, the penalties are extremely serious. A second degree crime like simple sexual assault carries a potential of 5-10 years in prison, and $150,000 in fines. A first degree crime like aggravated sexual assault carries a potential of 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
In addition to the prison time and high fines, you could also face required sex offender registration. This could last for years, even after you have served any prison time.
Haddonfield Sexual Assault Lawyer
The South Jersey sexual assault defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help if you were charged with sexual assault in New Jersey. Your communications with our attorneys are always confidential, and our lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand what we can do for your case. For your free, confidential consultation, call our criminal defense attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.