2C:14-2 Sexual Assault NJ Statute & Penalties
NJ Defense Lawyers for Sexual Assault Charges in New Brunswick, Piscataway, Metuchen, and throughout Middlesex County
Sex crimes are varied and nuanced in New Jersey law. Each crime’s grade, punishment, and definition hinges on the gravity of the crime. Violence, the tender age of the victim, and relationship between the victim and the perpetrator of the crime are elements of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The difference between first degree aggravated sexual assault and second degree sexual assault is the severity of the physical injury, the age of the victim, and the relationship of the victim to the accused. Rape, the way it is portrayed as a violent sexual attack in crime shows or how it is codified in other states, is closest to aggravated sexual assault or second degree sexual assault in New Jersey. There is no rape crime separate from sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and what is often known as statutory rape.
If you have been accused of sexual assault, the attorneys at our Middlesex County criminal law office are ready to help you navigate the tumultuous road ahead. From questioning by police, to investigating the case and combing through the evidence to find ways to best defend you, our lawyers at Proetta & Oliver have the knowledge, background, and dedication you need when seeking to avoid the heavy costs of a sexual assault conviction. We will protect your interests as if they are our own, as we are passionate about going to bat for clients charged with sexual assault and other serious felony crimes in New Brunswick, Piscataway, Woodbridge, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Monroe, East Brunswick, and throughout Central New Jersey. Contact us online or by calling (732) 659-9600 for a free and confidential consultation.
What is Considered Sexual Assault in New Jersey
Second degree sexual assault consists of sexual contact or sexual penetration of a victim. Victims can be either children, young teenagers, or older teenagers and young adults, as well as perfect strangers and even those in current or former romantic relationships. Generally, the sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault statute addresses the following three age ranges:
- Minors under 13
- Minors between the ages of 13 and 16
- Minors between the ages of 16 and 18
What is Sexual Contact?
The sexual contact constituting sexual assault is the touching of intimate parts that is intended to sexually arouse, satisfy, degrade, or humiliate one or both participants. For example, a male adult forcing a female minor to touch her intimate parts to arouse the male is considered sexual assault, even if she is fully clothed. Intimate parts consist of breasts, vagina, anus, groin, buttocks, or areas around these parts. So, sexual contact could mean the accused sexually contacts only themself within the victim’s sight. One form of second degree assault is sexual contact with a person younger than 13 by a person four years older.
What is Sexual Penetration?
Sexual penetration, the more extreme compared to sexual contact, can be accomplished by genitals, objects, hands, or fingers. It includes penetration of any orifice. Sexual assault by penetration occurs under certain conditions listed in the sexual assault statute: by force or upon a specified victim. Sexual penetration of a person under an assailant’s control is sexual assault. So, one who holds power over another, like a parole or probation officer, prison warden, or hospital attendant, commits sexual assault when they sexually penetrate victims over whom they hold power in their professional capacity or over whom they have supervisorial or disciplinary power. Additionally, a foster parent, other substitute parental figure, or relative who commits sexual penetration of their charges are guilty of sexual assault. Sexual assault victims include those who have been forcefully sexually penetrated, or are between the ages of 16 and 18, or between 13 and 16 and their assailant is four years older. If sexual penetration of a minor under age 13 occurs, it is first degree aggravated assault.
Conditions that can Lead to a Sexual Assault Charge N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2
In second degree sexual assault, the victim is harmed by physical violence, by one who abuses power and trust of their position, or by engaging in sexual activity to which they cannot consent. For example, a relative of the victim is also one in a position of trust by virtue of being related, and so, this crime offends and disrupts the natural and occupational power relations. A child who trusts and is fond of their much older teenage cousin, for example, may be vulnerable to sexual contact by the beloved cousin. In essence, the child is unsuspecting due to the relationship. Another condition of the crime is whether the victim is in a place that makes them vulnerable because they cannot escape, like a prison or hospital, and the sexual contact comes from the prison warden or hospital attendant, the very people in charge of keeping the victims where they are.
Age of Consent when being Charged with Sexual Assault in NJ
The basis for the age delineations in the statute is the premise that minors cannot consent to sexual behavior or actions. The four-year gap provision ensures that two consenting teenagers, who are close in age, are not treated as sex offenders, referred to as the Romeo and Juliet exception to statutory rape. The Shakespearean couple this nickname refers to were 13 and 16 and in love. Though sex with a minor is statutory rape, the degrees and hence punishments are based on the factors mentioned above: degree of harm, age difference, and relationship. Sexual contact that is consensual between two dating teenagers who are less than four years apart may be eligible for the close in age exception.
Lack of Knowledge is not a Valid Defense Against Sex Assault in Middlesex County
The question often arises in sexual assault cases as to whether there was consent or knowledge of the victim’s age. It is not uncommon for a 21-year-old to be dating and having sexual relations with a 17-year-old who looks like they are 20 or at least 18 years old. However, lack of knowledge of the minor’s age or consent of the minor is not a defense to sexual assault. There are defenses, however, that a smart criminal defense lawyer can tell you about and use in your favor if you have been charged with sexual assault in New Jersey.
Sexual Assault Accusations in a Domestic Violence Case
Contact between strangers and young people is not the only illegal sexual engagement that can be the basis for a sexual assault crime. Even married couples can be the subject of sexual assault. When one spouse forces the other by physical, emotional, or psychological abuse to have sex or endure unwanted sexual contact, the victim may report the violent spouse, who may face not only criminal charges for sexual assault, but also a permanent restraining order. Sexual assault is one of the crimes listed in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, meaning that the crime constitutes domestic violence. The same may be true of ex-spouses or dating partners who sexually assault their former or current intimate partners. For adults, sexual assault is a matter of consent or lack thereof.
Defending Second Degree Sexual Assault in New Jersey
The prison term of 5 to up to 10 years and fines of maximally $150,000.00 are daunting when it comes to sexual assault offenses in New Jersey. Plus, those convicted are required to become registered sex offenders under New Jersey Megan’s Law. For these reasons alone, much less the damage to your personal life and reputation, you want to find a solid, informed attorney to guide you through the criminal court system. You do not want to submit to any police questioning without an attorney present, as you need someone protecting your best interests against officers who will try everything they can to get you to incriminate yourself. On top of that, your attorney can begin arguing for your release from jail if you were arrested, right from the beginning of your case and throughout the length of the proceedings until trial or other resolution of your case.
A prosecutor will often seek to punish you to the fullest extent, requesting the maximum prison term and fines that the law allows unless you can demonstrate to a judge why you should receive a lower sentence. If you are ultimately found guilty, an attorney can bring to the court’s attention mitigating factors that could sway the court to lower your sentence. It may matter that you were lied to about your date’s age, but when you found out, you immediately broke off the relationship. And before any conviction can take place, a seasoned sexual assault defense lawyer can challenge the evidence at every turn, fully litigating the case to shed light on your innocence.
Get Guidance and Legal Protection from a Seasoned Edison NJ Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer if You Have been Accused
Call the distinguished criminal defense attorneys at our law office for a free consultation about your sexual assault case. We offer dedicated defense representation to clients in South Brunswick, Plainsboro, Carteret, North Brunswick, Dunellen, Old Bridge, and Middlesex County towns throughout the region. Receive a free consultation by calling (732) 659-9600 or start a chat for further information.