Sex Crime Defense in Monmouth County

When faced with allegations or charges of sex crimes in New Jersey, those accused must navigate a well-funded, well-staffed criminal justice system. Without the proper guidance and representation, defendants standing before a judge or jury risk years of incarceration, exorbitant fines, and a profile on the state's online sex offender registry. Elevated emotions often encumber proceedings, given the nature of the charges. Moreover, even if defendants are found not guilty or the charges are later dropped, they still may face public ridicule that can affect their personal and professional lives.

The need for a proven attorney is not only apparent but a worthwhile investment in the protection of your reputation and future. But you also need a team familiar with Monmouth County and New Jersey-wide legal proceedings. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is well-versed in how the state handles sex crime charges and the effort it takes to prosecute cases. He and his team will safeguard your right to due process and lay the groundwork for a defense against sex crime allegations and charges. Monmouth County prosecutors are prepared to craft a compelling case against you, so act now and contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online now.

How Does New Jersey Rank Sex Crimes?

Monmouth County—as well as the rest of New Jersey—places sex crimes into five categories of increasing legal severity. Offenses are rated by the "degree" of the charged crime, and the following lists how the state may punish actions based on the degree.

Degree of Offense

Maximum Incarceration Period

Maximum Fine

First Degree

10 to 20 years, life in some cases


Second Degree

5 to 10 years


Third Degree

3 to 5 years


Fourth Degree

18 months



6 months


Yet, the way in which sex crime cases are handled will depend upon the context and details of each individual situation. But there are some similarities. For example, serious criminal actions such as rape and aggravated sexual assault are typically second and first-degree offenses, whereas less severe crimes, like indecent exposure or lewdness, are usually classified as fourth-degree crimes or disorderly offenses.

Understanding Consent Laws

Each state has consent laws, and New Jersey is no different. The state's criminal justice system labels sex crimes of assault and contact when the accuser either withholds consent for the sexual activities or lacks the legal capacity to consent to such act. Under New Jersey Law, the following groups are legally incapable of granting consent:

  • Those under the age of 16
  • Are diagnosed with severe physical or mental incapacities.
  • Unconsciousness individuals
  • Anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Minors when the other consenting party has any parental, guardian, or supervisory authority over the minor.

For minors, there is one small distinction. Consent laws are applied differently to individuals between 13 and 16 years. For instance, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old have the legal capacity to consent to each other.

New Jersey Sex Crimes Statute of Limitations

Much like consent laws, each state will have a statute of limitations, which is the time in which victims have to notify law enforcement about an alleged crime. The law ensures timely legal action, protecting due process for both the accuser and the accused in civil and criminal cases.

The state provides sex crime victims 37 years after reaching the age of majority—18 years old—to file a suit if the alleged action happened when the victim was a minor. If the alleged crime occurred when the victim was an adult, the state of limitations drops to seven years, which begins when the victim acknowledges a civil right to claim damages.

New Jersey's approach toward criminal allegations differs significantly. For severe offenses—often characterized by crimes committed in an aggravated nature—such as sexual assault or rape, there is no statute of limitations applicable to minors and adults.

Some may be under the impression that they can prevent future lawsuits by trying to resolve matters on a class action basis, even with accusers who have not yet come forward. However, New Jersey explicitly forbids any efforts to settle or manage such issues on a class basis, stating that "any private, contractual arrangement intending to settle claims… on a class basis is against public policy and shall be void and unenforceable."

Common Sex Offenses in New Jersey

Understanding the degrees of sex crimes depends on identifying the particular nature of the alleged offense. The New Jersey criminal justice system will draw a line of demarcation between acts involving sexual penetration and sexual contact. The difference between the two can mean a charge in the third degree or one in the first degree.

The state defines the two as the following:

  • Sexual penetration: "vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse" resulting from inserting a "finger, hand, or object."
  • Sexual contact: intentionally touching the victim's "intimate parts" either directly or through clothing, committed to degrade or humiliate the victim or for sexual arousal or gratification.

Nevertheless, the severity of the offense will depend on other factors. Unique to each case are the following elements:

  1. The victim's age
  2. The age of the accused
  3. Relationship between the parties
  4. Motivations or pre-meditation

While there are multiple charges a defendant can face, there are a few more common ones, like those listed below:

  • Aggravated sexual assault: A first-degree crime characterized by sexual penetration of a victim under the 13, with an individual between 13 and 16 if a familial or supervisory relationship exists, an act committed during the course of an additional crime, an act committed with or under the threat of force with a weapon, or leads to injury.
  • Sexual Assault: A second-degree offense—also referred to as rape—involving sexual penetration with physical force or coercion—but without injury—when the victim is incapacitated or under the defendant's legal control or supervision.
  • Aggravated criminal sexual contact: A third-degree crime involving sexual contact after coercion or force that leads to a physical injury to the accuser or with certain minors.
  • Criminal sexual contact (N.J.S.A 2C:14-3(b)): This fourth-degree crime requires sexual contact using coercion, but without the use of force or injury to the victim, in other circumstances similar to those that would apply in a sexual assault case.
  • Indecent exposure: A fourth-degree offense typically involving the exposure of intimate body parts for sexual gratification when the defendant reasonably knows that they will be seen either by a child under 13, certain minors, or by someone with an incapacity that makes them unable to understand the act's sexual nature.
  • Lewdness: A disorderly offense—fourth-degree is involving a minor under the age of 13—involving any act in which the defendant reasonably expects is likely to be observed by "nonconsenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed."

Investigation and Trial Procedures

Just because the charges are serious doesn't mean you'll have plenty of time to prepare yourself before the New Jersey criminal justice system begins its proceedings to investigate, adjudicate, and punish sex crimes. In fact, the state has expedited the process. According to the Office of the Attorney General, local law enforcement is now required to submit all sex crime charges above the third degree to county prosecutors within 24 hours. Therefore, expect immediate legal action.

An arrest may occur if local authorities find reasonable grounds to assert that the allegations are substantiated and a crime has been committed. This is when an experienced attorney becomes invaluable. As the pretrial phase begins, emotions may run high, and the vast array of legal complexities in sex crime cases can be overwhelming. Moreover, an attorney will be able to walk individuals through the following steps, including providing essential representation.

  1. Arraignment—formal reading of the criminal charges before a judge.
  2. Bail—the defendant's conditional release dependent upon reappearing in court on a scheduled date.
  3. Discovery—the defense and prosecution trade information and evidence with each other.
  4. Plea Negotiations—agreements between the two parties are their representatives for a plea and a punishment less than the legal maximum.
  5. Pretrial motions—attempts to turn over evidence, terminate charges, and address other legal materials and situations.

Should the Monmouth County judge decide to forward the case to a full trial, the significance of professional legal counsel intensifies. During courtroom proceedings, the defense and prosecution teams commence by articulating their respective arguments on behalf of their defendant and plaintiff during initial remarks. Following this, they provide evidence and witness testimony to the court, including cross-examination. After which, both parties and their representatives summarize through concluding remarks, paving the way for adjudication. If charges are substantiated, a sentencing hearing will follow to determine the appropriate punitive measures in accordance with New Jersey law.

Sex Crime Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The consequences of sex crime charges will depend heavily on what degree of offense is substantiated. Although sentencing is left to the discretion of the presiding judge, there are instances where time behind bars is added because of the defendant's criminal past.

Individuals convicted of a second offense are categorized as habitual offenders. Even if it's an individual's first New Jersey criminal charge, a prior conviction in another state will influence sentencing. Habitual offenders must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of five years without parole. Even the county judge can't reduce the sentencing provision.

Furthermore, under New Jersey's "No Early Release Act," individuals must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before release in some cases. However, that provision only applies to those who are convicted of crimes of an aggravated nature and those involving minors.

Sexual Offender Registry

Defendants may focus a lot of their attention on the potential for incarceration and immense financial penalties involved with sex crime convictions. Inclusion into New Jersey's publicly available online sex offender registry is yet another significant consequence.

New Jersey's sex offender registry separates individuals into three tiers. Each tier is based on the probability of re-offense and is also tied to the severity of the crime committed. Every tier will have varying degrees of personal information made accessible to the public. For some crimes, the registry can include an individual's home address or place of business.

Some examples of convictions that call for placement on the Sex Offender Internet Registry include the following:

  • Aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault.
  • Aggravated criminal sexual contact or criminal sexual contact against a minor.
  • Criminal restraint or false imprisonment of a minor.

Even individuals in the lowest may be required to notify local authorities when they are in certain areas. As well, inclusion on the registry will make pursuing a career extraordinarily tough. Therefore, before contesting any accusations or charges related to sexual offenses, it's imperative to consult with a professional team that understands the gravity of the situation.

How New Jersey's Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team Can Help You

If you're facing accusations or formal charges of sex crimes, you don't just risk heavy fines and jail time but significant reputational harm, difficulties maintaining and finding employment, embattled familial relationships, and the potential loss of professional licenses and certifications. Even if you are convinced of your stance on the situation, representing yourself in a Monmouth County courtroom is unwise. Reach out and hire a team to protect your rights and advocate for your defense immediately.

With extensive knowledge of Monmouth County and New Jersey at large, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is primed to work with you to offer a carefully crafted defense strategy that prioritizes your well-being. In Monmouth County, the pursuit of those accused of sexual crimes is carried out with intensity. The justice system applies thorough and rigorous approaches to handling sex crimes. Call the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 or go online today for a consultation.

​​​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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