Being charged with a sex crime in New Jersey is a serious matter and a conviction will have life-altering implications. Facing down a sexual assault charge is always an uphill battle. Both the public and the law have an extremely negative view on sex offenders, and garnering sympathy from a judge or a jury is difficult. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you have an experienced and skilled lawyer, like those at Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio, L.L.C., to represent you in court and fight for your rights.
What Is Considered Sexual Assault?
In New Jersey, sexual assault is the legal term used for rape and is determined under N.J.S.A. 2C-14-2. A sex crime is considered sexual assault if penetration, not matter how slight, occurs due to using physical force or coercion or done while the victim is mentally or physicially incapacitated. Penetration is defined as vaginal, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or penetration of the vagina or anus by a hand, finger, or object by the defendant or upon the defendant’s instruction.
Types of Sexual Assault
There are different types of sexual assault, but they all involve penetration. These variations include situations in which:
- The victim is younger than 13 and the defendant is older than 17.
- The defendant used physical force but did not injure the victim.
- The victim was under the control of the defendant, such as in the case of a prison guard or parole officer.
- The victim is 16-18 and the defendant has control over them.
- The victim is 13-16 and the defendant is older by four years.
Sexual assault is an indictable crime in New Jersey, which matches a felony charge in other states. The following are the general penalties for sexual assault. However, depending on the nature of the crime and the age of the persons involved, the penalties can shift.
- Sexual Assault – Crime in the Second Degree
- Between 5-10 years in prison
- Fines of up to $150,000
Due to the heavy consequences for a conviction, it is wise to always talk to a criminal defense lawyer before answering questions, admitting anything to the police or even speaking with investigators. Anything you do and say can be used against you in a court of law, so exercise your constitutional right to legal counsel before doing anything else.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious sex crime that exists in New Jersey law. It is considered a first degree crime. This crime still involves sexual penetration but one or more of the following has occurred:
- The victim is under 13.
- The assault occurred during the commission of another crime such as robbery, murder, or kidnapping.
- The defendant was armed and threatened to use the weapon in order to achieve sexual advantage over the victim.
- The victim suffered severe injury as a result of physical force or coercion used by the defendant.
- The defendant was assisted or aided by one or more persons in committing the assault.
- The defendant either knew or should have known that the victim was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or mentally defective.
- The victim was between 13-16 and the defendant was either in a familial relationship with the victim, had supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim, or was the parent/guardian of the victim.
Generally, an aggravated sexual assault conviction involves the following harsh penalties:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault – Crime in the First Degree
- Between 10-20 years in prison
- Fines of up to $200,000
The Life-Changing Impact of a Sexual Assault Conviction
If you are convicted of a sexual assault charge, in addition to the above mentioned penalties, you will also be forced to register with state and federal sex offender lists. This will involve your picture being posted online where it will be publicly available. In addition, a sex crime conviction can make it difficult if not impossible to find a good place to live, attend college or obtain a decent job thanks to background checks and the easy access to the persons on the sex offender registries.
These registries last a lifetime, so you will remain on the lists forever. If you remain arrest free for 15 years and can prove you are no longer a public safety risk, you can apply to get yourself removed from these registries. However, there is no guarantee your request will be granted. Some convictions will also come with “Parole Supervision for Life” (PSL). PSL involves constant supervision by a parole officer and restrictions on where you can travel and on internet access.
Fighting a Sexual Assault Charge in NJ?
Sexual assault charges are a gravely serious matter and require both expertise and experience to combat effectively. That’s where Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio, L.L.C. comes in. We know how intimidating facing accusations of such a crime are but we will give you a fighting chance in court. Do not hesitate to talk to us about your case so we can start formulating a strong defense.