South Jersey Sexual Assault Defense Attorney
Criminal defendants do not often receive much sympathy from the public. When news media outlets pick up a defendant’s story, the public is usually quick to convict before hearing any substantial evidence. This is especially so for the defendants charged with sexual assault and other sex crimes. Fortunately, your case will not be tried in the court of public opinion. You are still innocent until proven guilty. Sexual assault and similar sexual offenses can carry very harsh penalties, so there is a lot on the line when we bring your case to a trial.
While sexual assault charges can be very frightening to deal with, they are just like any other criminal charges. We must gather evidence and present our arguments in court as to why you should not be convicted. With proper strategy and preparation, we can tackle your case head-on and hopefully be successful. If a complete acquittal is not possible, we may be able to have at least some charges dropped or dismissed. We could also negotiate a plea deal, so you serve a much lighter sentence than if convicted at a trial.
For help handling your sexual assault case, contact our South Jersey sexual assault defense attorneys. Sexual assault cases can be very emotionally charged, and it is best to proceed with the help of a highly skilled lawyer. Call our highly skilled lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956. Contact our offices today to set up a free legal consultation about your case.
What is Sexual Assault in New Jersey?
Sexual assault is defined under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2. The offense is separated into two broad categories. The first category is referred to as “sexual assault,” while the second category encompasses more serious acts and is called “aggravated sexual assault.” This category of sexual assault tends to involve more violent acts and offenses involving younger victims.
Specifically, aggravated sexual assault involves sexual penetration under specific circumstances. Aggravated sexual assault may be charged when the victim is under the age of 13. If the victim is older than 13 but still younger than 16, aggravated sexual assault may be charged if the defendant is related to the victim, has supervisory authority over the victim, or is a foster parent or other legal guardian of the victim.
Aggravated sexual assault can also be charged when it is committed during the commission of another felony, like a robbery or burglary, when the actor uses a weapon, or when the actor has help from others. If an actor coerces a victim into sex and injures them in the process, they may be charged with aggravated assault. Finally, if the victim could not consent because they were physically or mentally incapacitated or were incapable of consent due to a mental disease or defect, the actor may be charged with aggravated assault.
Ordinary sexual assault includes any form of sexual assault that would not be included as aggravated sexual assault. However, certain acts are considered ordinary sexual assault by statute. For example, if an actor makes sexual contact, not penetration, with a victim who is less than 13 but the actor is at least 4 years older, the actor may be charged with sexual assault. Sexual assault covers many situations similar to aggravated sexual assault, but the victim usually suffers little to no physical injury. Speak to our South Jersey sexual assault defense lawyers for help with your charges today.
Other South Jersey Sex Crimes
Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are not the only sex offenses a defendant could be charged with. Multiple additional sex crimes could potentially be charged. However, sexual assault tends to be the most serious offense. Whatever your charges are, our South Jersey sexual assault defense attorneys can help.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-3, a defendant may be charged with criminal sexual contact. In many ways, criminal sexual contact is very similar to sexual assault. In fact, the statute explicitly states that criminal sexual contact may be completed under any of the circumstances listed for sexual assault. However, criminal sexual contact does not involve sexual penetration. The statute for criminal sexual contact does not mention any specific acts that could be charged. This means the statute is very broad and may encompass any sexual contact or touching that does not rise to the level of sexual assault.
Another sexual offense a person could be charged with is lewdness. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-4, lewdness is defined as a flagrant sexual act that the actor knows is likely to be seen by someone else. Acts of lewdness often occur in public and are witnessed by people who did not consent to see the act. This may sometimes be called “flashing” but may involve more than merely exposing yourself to others. For example, public masturbation might be charged as lewdness.
Sexual assault and other sex offenses can vary based on the severity of the act and the victim’s age. Charges involving minor victims tend to be prosecuted more harshly. Our South Jersey sexual assault defense lawyers can help you fight your charges.
Penalties for Sexual Assault and Other Sex Crimes in South Jersey
Aggravated sexual assault in New Jersey may be charged as a first-degree crime, while ordinary sexual assault may be charged as a second-degree crime. Aggravated criminal sexual contact and regular criminal sexual contact may be charged as third- and fourth-degree crimes, respectively. Lewdness is a less serious sexual offense and may be charged as a fourth-degree crime or a disorderly persons offense.
Crimes of the first degree can be punished by at least 10 years but no more than 20 in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. A second-degree crime can be penalized by a state prison term of at least 5 years but no more than 10, and fines of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes can be punished by a state prison sentence of no less than 3 years but no more than 5, and fines can be up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes can be punished with prison terms of no longer than 18 months and fines of up to $10,000. For minor disorderly persons offenses, a defendant could be sent to jail for up to 6 months and fined up to $1,000.
In addition to prison terms and fines, a convicted sex offender may be required to place their name on New Jersey’s sex offender registry. Once on the registry, a sex offender must regularly check in with law enforcement and may be restricted from living in areas near schools. The registry is available to the public, and some offenders may be required to inform neighbors about their sex offender status. For more information about potential penalties, call our South Jersey sexual assault defense lawyers.
Call Our South Jersey Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys
If you face charges for sexual assault or some other sex offense, you need help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our South Jersey sexual assault defense lawyers have the skills and experience to fight your charges. Contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free legal consultation with us.