Vacations at the shore may be a time to let loose and relax. Unfortunately, situations can escalate, and facts may become clouded and confused. This can lead to accusations of criminal activity and assault coming to light. New Jersey’s sexual assault laws work to protect victims of sexual assault and rape, but they also require proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the accused.
If you were charged with a sexual assault crime in Wildwood, NJ, talk to our Wildwood sexual assault defense attorneys right away. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those charged with serious crimes like simple sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault and help them fight these charges. For a free consultation on your case, call our law offices today at (609) 625-3006.
Definition of Sexual Assault in Wildwood, New Jersey
New Jersey’s crime for having sex with someone without their consent is known as “sexual assault.” This crime incorporates statutory rape, forcible rape, and crimes involving drugged victims into the same, broad statute.
There are two forms of sexual assault under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2, known as “simple” and “aggravated” sexual assault. While nothing is “simple” about the charges, the facts surrounding them, or the criminal penalties, this distinction highlights the fact that the actions and penalties involved with aggravated sexual assault are usually more severe.
Under the New Jersey definition of sexual assault, it is a crime to commit an act of sexual penetration under certain circumstances which highlight a lack of consent. For simple sexual assault, it becomes a crime if the sexual act was done under any of these circumstances:
- The actor uses force/coercion (even if they do not cause injury);
- The actor has some authority over the victim while the victim is on probation, on parole, or detained in a prison or hospital;
- The victim is 16 or 17 years old and the actor is a blood relative, parent or guardian, or has authority over the victim; or
- The victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the actor is at least 4 years older.
An act short of penetration, i.e. sexual touching (under or over the clothes), can also constitute sexual assault if the victim is under 13 years old and the victim is at least 4 years older.
For the crime to be upgraded to aggravated sexual assault, the circumstances surrounding the sex act must be one of the following. These circumstances are all more severe and indicate a more clear lack of consent:
- The victim is under 13;
- The victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the actor is a blood relative, parent or guardian, or has authority over the victim;
- The act occurred during another crime (i.e. “robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault on another, burglary, arson or criminal escape”);
- The actor threatens to use a weapon they have with them (or another object the victim thinks is a weapon);
- Another person helps the actor commit the crime;
- The actor uses force/coercion and causes “severe personal injury”; or
- The actor knew or should have known that the victim was physically or mentally “helpless or incapacitated,” e.g. because of a debilitating mental disorder, because they were unconscious, or because they were under the effects of drugs or alcohol to the point that they could not legally consent.
Penalties for Simple Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault in NJ
New Jersey’s sexual assault laws are classified among the two highest levels of crime. In New Jersey, first degree crimes are punished by 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000. This is the highest level of crime in the state. Second degree crimes, the second most severe level of crime, are punished with 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime, and simple sexual assault is a second degree crime. This means that both of these offenses can result in decades of jail time and extremely high financial penalties. If you are sentenced to even the minimum penalties for these crimes, you could be spending the next 5-10 years of your life behind bars.
The effects of sexual assault charges – let alone a sexual assault conviction – can have a severe, negative impact on your career, social life, family, reputation, and other aspects of your life. It is vital to take these charges seriously and hire an attorney who can provide a strong defense and discrete representation.
Wildwood Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was charged with sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault in Wildwood, NJ, talk to our Wildwood sexual assault defense attorneys right away. The attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych have decades of experience defending the accused from serious charges and fighting to get charges dropped and sentences reduced. For a free, completely confidential consultation on your charges, contact our law offices today at (609) 625-3006.