Acts of sexual assault, commonly referred to as rape, are violent crimes that are among the most serious types of criminal offenses. In the U.S. there is an annual estimated average of more than 321,000 people over the age of 12 that are victims of rape or sexual abuse. Among the victims each year, there are roughly 60,000 children, 80,000 people in correctional facilities, and 18,000 military members. Many of the victims know their offenders who may include those they have a dating relationship with or are a family member.
In New Jersey in 2017, there were an estimated 114 cases of rape, which is similar to the 115 reported incidents in 2016. Approximately 55% of the offenses occur at or in close proximity to the home of the victim. Another 15% of occurrences are in public places and about 8% happen on school property.
Crimes of a sexual nature in New Jersey are addressed in Title 2C of the state's code. A sexual assault may involve a form of sexual penetration with a victim who has not consented to engage in sexual activity or is incapable of doing so. The majority of sexual assault cases are second-degree offenses, which are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. The offense may be elevated to a first-degree offense, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fines. Some of the acts that may be charged as being first degree (2C-14-2) include the following:
- If the victim is under the age of 13
- If the victim is 13-years-old but under the age of 16 when the perpetrator is a parent, guardian, another close relative, or is in a supervisory type of role
- The assault occurs while the offender is committing another serious criminal offense such as robbery or arson, or if they possess a weapon
- The perpetrator commits the act using force with assistance from one or more people
- If the use of force creates a severe injury
- When the alleged attacker is aware that the victim has a mental or physical impairment that renders them helpless or not capable of consenting to participate in sexual activity
Females are at a greater risk to be victims of sexual assault than men. Children are more likely to be victimized than adults based on vulnerability. Roughly 67% of victims are minors who have yet to reach the age of 18. Approximately one in four girls experience a sexual assault or attempted assault before turning 18 years of age.
Requirement to Register as a Sex Offender (2C:7-1)
The state's sex offender registry often is used to assist members of law enforcement in investigating crimes. The names, addresses, and photos of prior offenders are maintained. Offenders may be required to remain on the registry for a period of years or for life. In recent years, the federal government has created a central database that stores this data as well.
Registered sex offenders are further classified within the state database. These individuals may be categorized as high risk (Tier 3), moderate risk (Tier 2), and low risk (Tier 1). Offenders who are required to register that fail to do so will be charged with a criminal offense. The offender registry is accessible to the public online.
Requirements to Submit to HIV Testing and Provide a DNA Sample
Those who are convicted of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault are tested for HIV/AIDS. The same requirement applies to juveniles who are found to be delinquent for acts that related to sexual assault. Victims may request that an offender be tested. These test results may only be disclosed to the offender, the agency of enforcement, and the victim.
Both juvenile and adult offenders that commit acts that relate to sexual assault are required to provide a DNA sample. The New Jersey State Police provides oversight for the process and they or the Department of Corrections may collect the sample. The DNA may be derived from a blood sample or other biological sample.
Specialized Offender Supervision
Those convicted of sexually-based offenses may be placed on probation or parole where they are supervised. The terms of their supervision may vary but may include that they have no contact with their victims, have no contact with minors, abstain from alcohol or drugs, and many others. Those who may be considered as higher-risk may be placed under some form of surveillance or monitoring. One common way is by tracking their location through GPS technology.
Children Resulting From Sexual Assault
If a child is born that is the result of a rape the state has the right to limit ordinary forms of parental rights. They may impose restrictions that relate to custody and visitation based on what is determined to be in the best interest of the child. If an offender who is a parent in these situations has existing custody or visitation rights, they may be terminated. The grounds for termination are that “clear and convincing evidence” shows that this action is in the best interest of the child. Parents are generally still required to fulfill financial child support obligations in these scenarios.
There are several common defenses that may be used in these cases. The alleged victim may have mistakenly identified you are being the perpetrator. A mistake identity defense is viable particularly when the accused party has an alibi that they were at another location at the time of the incident. Often there is debate regarding whether the alleged victim did consent to engage in sexual activity or not. In many cases, it may be proven that the evidence presented is insufficient to satisfy the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
Experienced Attorney for Defending Sexual Assault Cases
Individuals who are alleged to have committed sexually-based offenses are likely facing very severe penalties if convicted. Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer that has been providing effective legal representation for clients in the New Jersey courts for many years. Those who are seeking a lawyer that aggressively challenges the allegations and will protect your rights are encouraged to contact the office at (888) 535-3686 today.