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South Jersey Sexual Assault Defense Attorney

Charges of rape and sexual assault are extremely sensitive and complicated issues. Sex crimes are some of the most intimate interpersonal crimes, and often carry a stigma for both the defendant and the alleged victim – no matter what the result of the case.

In any case of sexual assault and related crimes, most of the details of the case are extremely personal. Most sexual assaults charges are against acquaintances, not strangers. Many times, allegations of sexual assault come down to each person’s understanding of consent in an intimate, private setting. At the Law Offices of John Zarych, we understand these sensitive issues and will work with you to earn your trust and confidence in handling your case.

What is Sexual Assault in New Jersey?

Every state has different definitions for different sex crimes, and they often involve differences in what object or body part the defendant used, what body part of the victim it was used on, whether or not there was force used, and the age of the victim (and defendant). Instead of “rape,” New Jersey calls the central crime “sexual assault.”

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In New Jersey, “aggravated sexual assault,” as codified in N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(a), is sexual penetration while any of these other conditions are present:

  • The victim is under thirteen years old
  • The victim is between thirteen and sixteen years old and the defendant is in a position of trust, authority, or family relation
  • Committed during the commission of another serious crime
  • Committed with the threat of a weapon
  • By use of force, with the assistance of another person
  • By use of force, and the victim is severely injured
  • The victim was physically helpless, incapacitated, mentally unable to provide consent, otherwise unable to understand the sexual conduct, or was otherwise unable to provide consent. (Note that this would cover things like an unconscious, drugged, or drunk victim.)

“Sexual assault” is defined in subsection b. of the same statute, and is similar, but covers less severe conduct. Sexual assault is sexual penetration of another where any of the following occur:

  • Physical force is used, but there is no severe personal injury
  • The victim cannot legally consent because they are on probation, on parole, in a hospital, in a prison, etc.

There are special rules depending on the age of the victim and certain facts about the defendant:

  • If the victim is between sixteen and eighteen years old, it is sexual assault if the defendant is in a position of authority or related to the victim
  • If the victim is between thirteen and sixteen years old, it is sexual assault any time the defendant is four years older than the victim (or more).
  • If the victim is under thirteen years old, any sexual contact – not just penetration – is considered sexual assault if the defendant four years older than the victim (or more)

These definitions rely heavily on the definition of “penetration.” Some states limit their definition of penetration. New Jersey takes a broad approach and includes any insertion of the tongue, finger, hand, penis, or object into the mouth, vagina, or anus of the victim by the defendant – or at the defendant’s instruction. Depth of penetration is also not a factor – any penetration counts.

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Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime punishable by ten to twenty years in prison and fines of up to $200,000. Sexual assault is a second degree crime punishable by five to ten years in prison and fines up to $150,000. Both crimes also require sex offender registration under Megan’s Law, which can continue to punish defendants for years after release.

Other New Jersey Sex Crimes

While the definitions of sexual assault cover a large amount of conduct, there are other statutes to cover actions that fall short of “penetration.” “Aggravated criminal sexual contact” is the crime of committing any sexual conduct under the circumstances listed for aggravated sexual assault – but without penetration. Similarly, “criminal sexual contact” is for sexual contact, short of penetration, under the circumstances listed for sexual assault. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Criminal sexual contact is a fourth degree crime punishable by up to eighteen months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Lewdness is a separate crime, and criminalizes flashing (and similar conduct). This is a disorderly persons offense, meaning it can be punished by up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 fine. If the defendant flashes someone else where someone under thirteen or mentally handicapped is likely to see, then it is a fourth degree crime punishable by up to eighteen months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Speak to a Southern New Jersey Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a sex crime in South Jersey, you face the possibility, not only of prison, but of years of trouble with sex offender registries. If you are interested in hiring an experienced and confidential attorney who can help with your case, call the law offices of John Zarych at (609) 616-4956.