Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact in New Jersey

According to the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, there are approximately 1.8 million victims of sexually-related violence in New Jersey. Sexually violent acts are those where a party does not consent to participate. Examples may range from verbal sexual harassment to a physical sexual assault. Victims may be any age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Lawmakers in New Jersey have continued to allocate financial resources towards preventing and aiding victims of sexual violence. In the 2018 budget, the state devoted $4.1 million in efforts to address the issue. Service agencies and organizations across the state often provide services to more than 10,000 victims and their family members annually.

Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact (2C:14-3)

An actor is guilty of aggravated criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with another person under any one of the following circumstances:

  • The victim is 13 years old but less than 16 years old; and
    • The perpetrator is a relative of the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree, or
    • The perpetrator is a supervisor or has disciplinary responsibility for the victim due to legal, professional, or job-related status, or
    • The perpetrator is a parent or guardian
  • The contact occurs in the process of committing a robbery, homicide, burglary or similar offense
  • The offender has possession of a weapon or implies that they have a weapon
  • The offender is assisted by another party and the contact involves force or coercion
  • A victim is severely injured by the usage of force
  • The victim is an individual that the perpetrator knows is helpless, mentally impaired, or otherwise not able to provide consent

Criminal Sexual Contact

An individual is guilty of criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with another person under any one of the following circumstances:

  • The perpetrator acts coercively or uses physical force; however, the victim does not incur a severe personal injury;
  • The perpetrator is a supervisor or has disciplinary responsibility for the victim due to legal, professional, or job-related status;
  • The victim is 16 years old and under 18 years old and:
    • The perpetrator is a relative of the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree, or
    • The perpetrator is a supervisor or has disciplinary responsibility for the victim due to legal, professional, or job-related status, or
    • The perpetrator is a parent or guardian
  • The victim is 13 years of age but under 16 years old and the perpetrator is at least four years older than the victim

The term “sexual contact” refers to an intentional act where the perpetrator touches the victim directly or through their clothes in an intimate region of the body. The contact may be intended to degrade or humiliate the victim or for the offender's own sexual gratification. A severe injury is one that results in significant pain, bodily injury, deformity, or mental hardship.

Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third-degree offense that is punishable by a prison sentence of between three and five years and a maximum fine of $15,000. Criminal sexual contact is a fourth-degree offense that is punishable by a sentence for a period of up to 18 months of incarceration and a maximum fine of $10,000.

The statute of limitations for criminal sexual contact is five years from when the act occurred. If the victim was less than 18 years of age, this period is five years from when the victim turns 18 years of age or two years after becoming aware of the offense. The statute of limitations does not apply to alleged offenders who have fled to avoid facing the charges.

Understanding Consent

New Jersey law addresses what constitutes consenting to engage in sexual activity. Parties must demonstrate “freely-given permission” to engage. Consent does not exist when a party is forced or coerced into sexual acts. Those under the age of 16 or those who are physically or mentally impaired are generally unable to legally consent.

Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)

The New Jersey State Police may use a SART seven days a week and 24 hours a day. The team is composed of a nurse examiner, an advocate for sexual violence, and a member of law enforcement. The purpose is to address the alleged offense in a comprehensive manner. This involves providing medical treatment, emotional support, and to collect any evidence related to the offense.

Megan's Law

In 1994, the state enacted Megan's Law, which requires that adults who are convicted of sex offenses and juveniles found to have been delinquent after sexually-based offenses to be registered. This registry classifies offenders in one of three categories (tiers) according to the severity of their crime(s) and their likelihood of reoffending. In the interest of public safety, law enforcement may publicly notify the community and the registry is always accessible to the public.

Those offenders who are registered must update their address if they move. Offenders are also required to register with any school they attend and any employer they work for. If an offender fails to properly meet the registration requirements they may be guilty of a third-degree offense. If the offender does register but knowingly provides incorrect information, they may be guilty of a fourth-degree offense.

Juvenile Sex Offenders

According to the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM), roughly 20% of those who commit sexually-based offenses are juveniles. The overwhelming majority of juvenile offenders are male. Data shows that juveniles who commit these offenses generally are less likely to re-offend compared to adults. Many juvenile offenders are placed on probation, which typically involves a combination of supervision and treatment.

Choosing Effective Legal Representation

A conviction for criminal sexual contact is either a third or fourth-degree offense. The corresponding penalties that may be imposed include up to five years of imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines. In addition, having a criminal record with a sexually-based offense is likely to have long-term adverse repercussions in terms of your reputation and eligibility for many employment opportunities. It is critical that those facing such allegations secure legal counsel that is focused in the realm of criminal defense.

Criminal Defense Attorney in New Jersey

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been representing clients facing criminal allegations for many years. He is adept at creating customized defense strategies that challenge the evidence and capitalize on weaknesses in the prosecution's version of events. For a complimentary case evaluation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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