Sex Crimes Defense in Bridgeton County

Defending yourself against the New Jersey criminal justice system can be a challenging task. While all allegations and charges of criminal and civil activity are handled with vigilance, the state will handle sex-related crimes harshly. Although sex crimes and how they are investigated, tried, and punished are ubiquitous statewide, they are handled at the municipal level.

Bridgeton's local prosecutors, like others throughout New Jersey, take an aggressive approach to convict those alleged to have committed sex crimes. But the intimidation from prosecuting attorneys pales in comparison to the potential punishments, of which maximum fines are measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, jail terms measured in years and decades, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. But defendants face risk even if an accuser drops the charges or Bridgeton fails to substantiate them.

Those accused of sex crimes often face ridicule and a downfall in their public reputation. Social challenges just from investigations into sex crime allegations can disrupt an individual's business or career and relationships with family members, friends, and other community members. Because of the threat to your good standing, the need for an immediate, professional defense couldn't be greater.

When sex crime allegations or charges threaten your future, an ardent team of attorneys becomes an invaluable life investment. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team recognizes the aggressive tactics New Jersey's localities employ to investigate, adjudicate, and sanction sex crimes. Our team also understands the particular nuances in every case and how they may influence the criminal and civil processes, including their foundation for a solid defense. To assert your right to fair legal proceedings and to begin creating a sound strategy, contact the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team online or call 888-535-3686 now.

How Does New Jersey Rank Sex Crimes?

Not all sex crimes are the same, and neither is their treatment by the New Jersey criminal justice system and the Bridgeton Joint Municipal Court. One of the leading factors in how the prosecution handles allegations of a criminal or civil nature is the severity of the situation. New Jersey maintains a system categorizing offenses that range from the most severe (first-degree) to a lower grade of seriousness (fourth-degree). Lesser offenses can also be designated as disorderly offenses—New Jersey's least severe rank. Each degree—from disorderly offense to first degree—also carries with it a maximum punishment allowed under the law, which includes the following:

Degree of Offense

Maximum Incarceration Period

Maximum Fine

First Degree

10 to 20 years


Second Degree

5 to 10 years


Third Degree

3 to 5 years


Fourth Degree

18 months


Disorderly Offense

6 months


While sex crimes can be ranked in any category and are dependent on the initial facts of any particular case, there are some generalizations that can be made. For instance, New Jersey localities typically handle sexual assault as a second-degree charge, and indecent exposure is usually managed as a fourth-degree offense.

Understanding Consent Laws

Another significant factor in determining the severity of the charge and how Bridgeton prosecutors will build their case is the nature of consent in regard to the alleged crime. Consent is a mutual agreement to engage in sexual acts—in this case, between the accuser and the defendant. A large part of the ensuing investigation will establish whether the accused failed to be given consent by the accuser or if the accuser lacked the legal capacity to give consent. The nature of consent also depends heavily on age.

In New Jersey, individuals aged 16 and above can legally consent to sexual activity with an adult. However, for those aged 13 to 16, there is a unique specification. Unless intoxicated or otherwise unconscious, 13, 14, 15, and 16-year-olds may consent to each other. Otherwise, the following individuals cannot give legal consent to sexual acts with an adult:

  • Anyone under the age of 16.
  • Minors over 16 when the consenting party maintains guardianship or legal supervisory authority over them.
  • Individuals with severe mental or physical capacities limiting their ability to grant consent.
  • Unconscious or intoxicated individuals unable to communicate consent.

Consent can be substantiated in a variety of ways. For instance, text messages and other electronic correspondence will paint a picture of the agreements the parties discussed beforehand or the lack thereof. Moreover, supporting evidence like medical documentation can play a big role in whether an individual was legally able to grant consent to sexual acts.

New Jersey Sex Crimes Statute of Limitations

Like all other states, New Jersey maintains a statute of limitations of criminal and civil action, which will be different for theft, vandalism, assault and battery, sex crimes, and others. The statute of limitations ensures due process is protected for the accused, but also the accused.

For civil cases in New Jersey, victims have up to 37 years beyond the age of majority—18 years old—to claim financial damage for an alleged action that happened when the victim was a minor. For those who levy accusations from an event occurring when they were already an adult, the statute of limitations is lowered to seven years.

Criminal cases are much different as the defendant is then accountable to the state rather than only the accuser. In New Jersey, there is no statute of limitations for criminal sex cases involving sexual assault, irrespective of the accuser is a minor or an adult. However, other sex crimes do have a statute of limitations. For criminal sexual contact, it's five years, with the time limit beginning when the accuser turns 18 or within two years of their discovery of the crime.

How the Level of Intimacy Affects New Jersey Sex Crime Charges

The level of intimacy between the defendant and the accuser also serves as a significant point of any case. New Jersey creates a solid boundary between acts involving sexual penetration and those involving sexual contact, with the former handled as much more legally severe than the latter. The difference between the two may result in a first-degree versus a third-degree charge.

New Jersey defines sexual penetration as "vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse" resulting from inserting a "finger, hand, or object." Sexual contact is "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."

Common Sex Offenses in New Jersey

There are many legal terms and charges used within the confines of the New Jersey criminal justice system. While there are multiple types of offenses a defendant can face, there are a few more common sex crime charges, like the following:

  • Aggravated sexual assault: A first-degree crime characterized by sexual penetration of a victim under the age of 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.
  • Rape: A second-degree offense—also referred to as sexual assault—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.
  • 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 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."

Motivations behind the alleged crimes or the ways in which they were carried out are noteworthy aspects that will influence the degree of the offense. If Bridgeton prosecutors suspect aggravation or pre-meditation is involved, they will take that into account when assessing charges, which may turn a second-degree offense into a first-degree offense.

Investigation and Trial Procedures

Once Bridgeton law enforcement has knowledge that a crime may have occurred, they will begin discerning whether reasonable grounds exist to make an arrest. With New Jersey's expedited sex crime management policy, local authorities are tasked with forwarding sex crime cases above a third-degree offense to prosecutors within 24 hours.

Following an arrest, defendants may find themselves navigating the following steps:

  1. Arraignment: Defendants must appear before a Bridgeton Joint Municipal Court judge for a formal reading of the charges, including their rights throughout the process.
  2. Bail: If applicable, the defendant is released until the trial begins through an agreement between the defendant and the court system, usually as a sum of money paid as a promise to reappear.
  3. Discovery: Before the trial, both parties and their legal counsel will collect evidence and trade information to prepare for arguments in front of a judge or grand jury.
  4. Other pretrial motions: Each sex crime case is unique, as are some of the legal situations that can occur before a trial. This could be disqualifying evidence, advocating for dropping charges, plea negotiations, and addressing other various case matters.

Sex Crime Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The consequences of sex crime convictions will depend heavily on the degree of offense heard by the court and the subsequent proceedings. While sentencing is usually in the hands of the presiding judge—sometimes a grand jury—some punishments are levied regardless of what the court decides.

Habitual offenders must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of five years without the chance for parole. To be designated as a habitual offender, a defendant's first charge does not have to be in New Jersey. Therefore, past and current convictions in other states will influence the sentencing process in the Bridgeton Joint Municipal Court system. Moreover, mandatory minimum sentences for sex crimes are ineligible for reduction.

Sexual Offender Registry

Those facing sex crime charges may focus solely on the enormous fines or incarceration after conviction. However, many forget about having to register as a sex offender.

Placement into the online sex offender registry is not based on the individual's conviction but on the probability of sex crime re-offense. New Jersey's registry has three categories, also known as tiers. Depending on which level, varying degrees of personal information are listed online. For instance, home address, occupation, and general physical characteristics.

Depending on the nature of an individual's conviction, the registry will also provide notification to community groups when the offender is in certain areas—near schools and public gathering places—like the following:

  • Tier 1 (low risk): Law enforcement.
  • Tier 2 (moderate risk): Law enforcement, schools, and community organizations.
  • Tier 3 (high risk): Law enforcement, schools, community organizations, and members of the public are likely to encounter the registrant.

Placement on the registry is not only a burden for one's social and familial life, but it may also cause challenges to professional pursuits and affect standing with professional licensing boards. Because of the risk to your future, before contesting allegations or charges of sex crimes, it's essential to consult with a team that understands how Bridgeton and the State of New Jersey handle sex crimes.

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

If you face allegations or charges of sex crimes, the threat to your livelihood is imminent. With the potential for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, decades of incarceration, and being publicly known as a sex offender, you risk enduring severe damage to your reputation and future. Act fast to protect your right to a fair trial and build your defense with the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team.

Well known in Bridgeton and throughout New Jersey, the Lento Law Firm is prepared to craft and implement your defense strategy, prioritizing your right to due process and the opportunity to assert your side of the story. The New Jersey criminal justice system and the Bridgeton Joint Municipal Court will have a relentless approach to handling sex crimes, so call Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 or go online to schedule 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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