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Ocean City Sexual Assault Defense Attorney

Sex crimes are some of the worst crimes in the eyes of society.  That makes them extremely sensitive matters – especially if you are wrongly accused.  Even so, the penalties for sexual assault in Ocean City, New Jersey can include years in prison, high fines, and registration as a sex offender.

Our attorneys offer confidential consultations, and can help you face sexual assault charges.  For a free consultation about your case, contact the attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych.

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Sex Crimes in New Jersey

In New Jersey, there is no crime titled “rape.”  Instead, the crime is called “sexual assault.”  There are two versions of sexual assault: sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault.  Similarly, for conduct that falls short of sexual assault, there is the crime of “criminal sexual contact,” which also has an aggravated form.

These crimes have definitions that allow the crime to apply to many different situations.  Many of these are based on the age of the victim, the relative ages of the victim and defendant, and whether the defendant has any positions of authority over the victim.

Criminal Conduct

Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2, sexual assault (both regular and aggravated) requires “an act of sexual penetration.”  That covers any vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or any anal or vaginal insertion of a finger, hand, or object.  The insertion still counts even if the defendant does not actually insert anything, but it is done at the defendant’s instruction.

In contrast, N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3’s definition of criminal sexual contact (both regular and aggravated) punishes “sexual contact.”  This is defined to include any touching of the victim or defendant’s “intimate parts.”  This includes touching under, or over the clothing.  The touching must also be done to degrade/humiliate the victim, or sexually arouse/gratify the actor.  If the actor touches him/herself to commit this crime, it must be in the victim’s sight, and the actor must know the victim is present.

Required Conditions

Consensual sexual intercourse and sexual contact are not normally illegal, and so there must be other conditions present to make these acts criminal.

For the simple (non-aggravated) version of these crimes, one of the following conditions must be present:

  • The actor uses force or coercion (without causing severe personal injury);
  • The actor has some disciplinary power over the victim, with regard to work or legal status; or
  • The victim is older than 13, but under 16 years old, and the actor is at least four years older.

For an aggravated version of either of these crimes, one of these conditions must be present:

  • The victim is under 13 years old;
  • The crime is committed alongside a (completed or attempted) robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, or criminal escape;
  • The actor is armed;
  • The actor has another person help use physical force;
  • The actor uses physical force, causing severe personal injury; or
  • The actor knew (or should have known) the victim was physically or mentally helpless or incapacitated.

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 – and one of these conditions is present:

  • The actor is related to the victim (by blood or adoption) within three degrees;
  • The actor has any supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim; or
  • The actor is the victim’s guardian (or has a similar legal status).

Finally, any action that would otherwise be criminal sexual contact is upgraded to sexual assault if the victim is under 13 years old and the actor is at least four years older.

Punishments for NJ Sex Crimes

Any sex crime in New Jersey has the possibility of jail time, large fines, and registration as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.

Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime.  In New Jersey, that is typically punished with up to 20 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines.  For this crime, the prison sentence is upgraded to a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison.  There is no possibility of parole before serving 25 years.

Sexual assault is a second degree crime.  These are typically punished with five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000.  For this crime, the prison sentence must be at least 15 years, with 15 to be served before parole.

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 (non-aggravated) is a fourth degree crime punished by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Sex Crimes Attorney in New Jersey

If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual assault or criminal sexual contact in New Jersey, it is vital that they talk to a criminal defense attorney.  These charges are serious, and a serious criminal defense can help you avoid years of prison and public stigma.  For a free consultation with our experienced defense attorneys, call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.

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