If you have been charged with sexual assault or any other sexual offense in Ocean County, you should seek immediate counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Sex crimes are some of the most severely punished crimes in New Jersey. Often, they have punishments that go beyond jail time and fines, and include registering as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
While the penalties are severe, the stigma around sex crimes may be even worse. Even if you are innocent, being charged with a sex crime could hurt your reputation and standing in the community. In order to get the best defense in your case, and discreet, confidential representation, you should talk to an experienced sexual assault attorney. The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych help fight sex crime charges in Ocean County and throughout New Jersey.
New Jersey Sex Crimes Definitions
“Sex crimes” are the general category of crimes that cover things like rape, sexual assault, and other crimes where sex acts are a main part of the offense.
“Sexual assault” is the name that New Jersey’s criminal code gives to rape. There are two forms of sexual assault in New Jersey: sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault. In general, both crimes are similar, but change depending on certain circumstances.
To understand how sexual assault is defined, it is important to understand some other definitions. “Sexual contact” is defined as “an intentional touching,” of another’s “intimate parts”. That covers touching someone’s “sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin, buttock, or breast.” It also does not make a difference whether the touching is done over clothing or directly on the skin.
“Sexual penetration” is defined as “vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal intercourse,” or “insertion of the hand, finger, or object into the anus or vagina.” This means that virtually any act of penetration is covered under New Jersey’s sexual assault statute.
Sexual assault, under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2 is the sexual penetration of another person, under any of these conditions:
- Physical force (without severe injury);
- The actor has some position of power over the actor; or
- The victim is at least 13, but under 16 (and the actor is at least four years older)
Sexual penetration of someone 16 or older, but under 18 years old is also sexual assault if the actor has any of these family/supervision roles:
- Is related to the victim (out to aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, great grandparents, or great grandchildren);
- Supervises or disciplines the child; or
- Is the victim’s legal guardian.
Sexual assault also includes sexual contact (not penetration) of anyone under 13 years old, when the actor is over four years older than the victim.
Aggravated sexual assault is sexual penetration with any of the following circumstances:
- The victim is under 13 years old;
- The victim is at least 13 years old, but under 16, and any of the family/supervision roles above apply;
- The actor used a weapon (or something that looked like a weapon) to threaten the victim;
- The actor used physical force or coercion and caused the victim severe injury;
- The actor had someone else helping them use force or coercion;
- The actor knew (or should have known) the victim was mentally challenged or limited and could not provide consent.
In addition to these sexual assault crimes, there is another crime under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3 for “sexual contact” and “aggravated sexual conduct.” This criminalizes sexual contact (sexual touching short of penetration) that occurs under any of the situations for sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault.
Potential Punishments for Sex Crimes
New Jersey’s crimes are classified under different levels, from first degree as the worst crime, down to fourth degree as the lightest level. These are similar to “felonies” in other states.
Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime. That means it is punishable by a fine of up to $200,000 and 10 to 20 years in prison. This is the absolute highest level of crime and punishment in New Jersey, apart from murder.
Sexual assault is a second degree crime punishable by fines of up to $150,000 and five to 10 years in prison.
Aggravated sexual contact is a third degree crime punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and three to five years in prison.
The crime of sexual contact is a fourth degree crime, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison.
Hire a New Jersey Attorney to Help Fight your Charges
Any sex crime charges in New Jersey carries a potential of prison time, huge fines, and sex offender registration. To help you fight these charges and avoid prison and registration, hire a criminal defense attorney with experience fighting these kinds of charges. In Ocean County, the attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent clients on these kinds of charges. If you have been charged call (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation.