Child Molestation in New Jersey

Data shows that calls to the state's hotline for reporting child abuse have continued to rise in recent years. The Department of Children and Families says they received over 78,000 calls in 2017. One form of abuse is child molestation, which may be categorized as a sexual assault charge. The following chart shows the number of overall rape convictions recently.

New Jersey






Attempted Rape



Sexual assault is a serious charge that may involve sexual penetration with a victim who has not consented to participate or is not lawfully about to give consent. Most sexual assault cases are charged as second-degree offenses, which are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. The offense may be upgraded to a first-degree offense, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fines, under certain circumstances. The crime may be charged as a first-degree offense (2C-14-2) as follows:

  • If the victim is under the age of 13
  • If the victim is at least 13-years-old but under the age of 16 when the crime is committed by a parent, guardian, another relative, or someone acting in a supervisory role
  • The assault occurs while the perpetrator is also committing another significant criminal offense such as robbery or arson, or if they possess a weapon
  • The perpetrator uses force and is assisted by one or more other people
  • The use of force results in a severe injury
  • When the alleged attacker is aware that the victim is mentally or physically impaired, thus rendering them helpless or incapable of consenting to participate in sexual activity

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

Acts of aggravated criminal sexual contact is a crime that is charged as a third-degree offense that occurs in the following ways:

  • Involves a victim that is 13 years old but less than 16 years old; and
    • The perpetrator is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree, or
    • The perpetrator is in a supervisory role or disciplinary capacity at the time due to legal, professional, or job-related status, or
    • The perpetrator is a parent or guardian
  • The crime occurs while committing a robbery, homicide, burglary or similar offense
  • The offender possesses a weapon or implies that they do
  • The offender is helped by another perpetrator and this contact involves the use of force or coercion.
  • A victim is severely injured following a use of force
  • The victim is someone that the perpetrator knows is helpless, mentally impaired, or otherwise unable to give consent

New Jersey Offense Classifications

New Jersey uses a different classification structure for crimes. They do not separate offenses into felonies or misdemeanors. The three most common categories for criminal offenses are indictable offenses, disorderly person offenses, and petty disorderly person offenses. The more serious (felony) crimes are the indictable offenses that range from the first to the fourth degree.

Sex Offender Registry (2C: 7-1)

The state's sex offender registry was implemented according to Megan's Law. The database is often used to assist members of law enforcement in investigating crimes. The contact information including the offender's residential and employment address and photo are maintained. Offenders may be ordered to remain on the registry for a certain period of years or for life. Recently, the federal government has created a central database that compiles this data also.

Registered sex offenders are classified according to their risk level in the state database. They may be categorized as high risk (Tier 3), moderate risk (Tier 2), and low risk (Tier 1). Failing to register as required will lead to being charged with a separate criminal offense. The offender registry is easily accessible to the general public online.

Required HIV Test and Submission of a DNA Sample

Those convicted of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assaults are tested for HIV/AIDS. This requirement also applies to juveniles that are determined to have demonstrated delinquency for acts related to sexual assault. A victim may specifically request that a convicted offender be tested. The test results are then disclosed to the offender, the enforcement agency, and the victim(s).

Offenders that commit acts that relate to sexual assault are also required to provide a DNA sample that is maintained in a database. The New Jersey State Police, who manages the sex offender registry, also manages this process and they or the Department of Corrections may gather the sample. The DNA is typically obtained through blood or another biological sample.

Enhanced Offender Supervisions

Individuals that are convicted of sexually-related offenses may be placed on probation or parole under community supervision. The terms of their probation often vary and the provisions may state that the offender has no future contact with their victims, avoid contact with any minors, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and others. Offenders considered to be higher-risk also may be further subjected to surveillance or monitoring. GPS technology using a tracking device is one common method employed.

Children That Result From an Act of Sexual Assault

The state reserves the right to impose parental responsibilities and possible restrictions on offenders if a child results from a sexual assault.  As is generally the case, the court assumes responsibility to control custody and visitation rights based on what is determined to be in the best interest of the child. The grounds for limiting or terminating these rights are based on whether “clear and convincing evidence” shows that this action is in the child's best interest. Parents are typically still required to maintain financial child support obligations.

Offense Level

Incarceration Period


First Offense

10 to 20 years

Maximum of $200,000

Second Degree

5 to 10 years

Maximum of $150,000

Third Degree

3 to 5 years

Maximum of $15,000

Fourth Degree

18 months

Maximum of $10,000

Potential Defenses

There are a host of potential defenses that may be used. There may have been mistaken identity. This is an effective defense when the accused party has an alibi regarding their whereabouts at the time of the offense. The defendant may claim that the alleged victim did provide consent to engage in sexual acts. The burden of proof in these and all criminal cases is the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

Why it is Critical to Retain Seasoned Legal Representation

Crimes that involve child molestation or other forms of sexual assault are viewed as among the most heinous offenses that occur in the community. Overzealous prosecutors may unfairly make a “rush to judgment” and those convicted are likely to face the maximum allowable penalties. Those facing such allegations must seek assistance from a criminal defense lawyer that is very familiar with defending these types of cases.

Defense Lawyer in New Jersey for Those Accused of Sexually-Based Offenses

Joseph D. Lento is an experienced defense attorney that effectively represents clients throughout New Jersey. He aggressively challenges the evidence and ensures that defendants are protected from potential violations of their rights. For a complimentary case evaluation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

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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