Per New Jersey law, consent is an essential element for all lawful sexual conduct between two people. The failure to obtain consent from the other party can, and often does, lead to serious criminal charges for sexual assault. When considering whether consent is effective, New Jersey law considers the individual giving consent’s age, physical impairments, and mental impairments. Under New Jersey law, an individual must be at least 16 years of age or older to give his or her consent to engage in sexual activities. However, there are exceptions to this general rule for consent. Failure to understand the concept of sexual consent and when it is and is not effective can make all the difference in whether you come to face serious criminal allegations due to a sexual encounter gone wrong.

Are There Situations Where Sexual Consent Cannot be Given or Where Consent is Ineffective?

The most widely-known exception to the general rule for sexual consent is statutory rape. Statutory rape can apply due to the age of the sexual partners or due to circumstances. Typically the age of consent IN New Jersey is age 16, but important exceptions apply to this general rule. For instance, while an individual between the ages of 13 and 15 can consent to sexual encounters with other individuals no more than 4 years older, they cannot consent to sexual encounters with individuals falling outside of this range. Furthermore, individuals who have not yet reached age 18 are not permitted to consent to sexual activities with individuals who are charged with a duty to care for the individual. Due to this provision in the statutory rape law, a teacher or caregiver who has sexual relations with an otherwise consenting 17 year old student can face charges for statutory rape.

DWI charge

Furthermore, an essential element of consent includes the fact that the individual is of sound mind and able to meaningfully give consent. Physical and mental disabilities such as cognitive impairments, speech impairments, and the voluntary or involuntary use of drugs or alcohol can all serve to diminish capacity to a point where consent cannot be given. Likewise an individual who is sleeping or otherwise rendered unconscious cannot give sexual consent.

While most of New Jersey’s laws criminalizing consensual sexual activities are no longer on the books, statutes regarding lewdness are still good law. Lewdness is defined as sexual acts that are likely to be witnessed by non-consenting parties who find the acts inappropriate and offensive. Exposure of one’s genitals to non-consenting witnesses or performing sex acts in public where they are witnessed can all result in charges under New Jersey law even when they are performed with a willing partner.

What Crimes Can I face if I Failed to Obtain Consent before Sexual Contact or if Consent is Ineffective?

New Jersey sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault law covers an array of criminal sexual activity. It includes the statutory rape provisions described above, including statutory rape due to rape or due to a caregiver or supervisory relationship. Aggravated sexual assault of a child who has yet to reach age 16 or when the accused individual has disciplinary power over the victim can, per NJSA 2C Sec. 14-2, be punished by a state prison sentence between 10 and 20 years, a fine not to exceed $200,000, or both. If the conduct falls short of aggravated sexual assault and is charged as sexual assault, a prison sentence of five to 10 years, a fine of no more than $150,000, or both can apply.

convicted of sex offenses

Criminal sexual contact can be charged under NJSA 2C Sec. 14-3 if he or she has any sexual contact expect penetration with a victim under 13 years of age or when the victim is aged between 13, 14, or 15 years and the accused had supervisory power over the victim. Illegal sexual contact can, upon conviction, be punished by a prison sentence not to exceed 18 months, a fine of no more than $10,000, or both.

Facing Sex Crimes Charges in Atlantic City, Wildwood, or Cape May?

If you are facing serious criminal charges in South Jersey the stakes are too high to go it alone. The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can fight for you. Our defense team has more than 45 years of combined practical experience and will fight strategically and aggressively for you. To schedule a no-cost, private initial consultation at our Atlantic City, Cape May, Wildwood, or Northfield locations call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.