What is a Sex Crime Restraining Order in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault reports that nearly 20% of women have been a rape victim. A Bureau of Labor Statistics' Criminal Victimization study reported that in 2017 there were approximately 20.6 people per 1,000 that were victims of sexual assault. This rate is believed to be much higher due to the many incidents that go unreported.

Sexual Assault Restraining Order

In 2015, the New Jersey legislature passed the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA). This allows victims of sexual assault to obtain a protection order from a court in a similar manner to how victims of domestic violence had been able to do. Those who are eligible include victims of sexual contact that is not consensual, sexual penetration, or lewdness.

A protective (restraining) order prohibits the alleged perpetrator from committing further acts of assault or abuse. The restraining order may be issued regardless of whether criminal charges are filed.

A restraining order generally prohibits the alleged perpetrator from visiting the victim's home, school, or place of employment. It will also typically prohibit making any contact with the victim, either directly or through a third-party. It will also prohibit acts such as harassment, stalking, and others that the court finds to be appropriate.

They are initially issued in the form of a temporary restraining order after the victim submits their petition. A hearing is then scheduled to occur within a 10-day period where all parties will be present. The hearing allows the parties to present evidence, witness testimony, and more. For the court to then issue a final restraining order, the allegations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Second-Degree Sexual Assault (2C:4-2)

The maximum penalties that may be imposed include 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine. There are several ways that the offense may be committed. It may occur if an individual has sexual contact with a child that is less than 13 years of age when they are four or more years older. Other ways that the offense is committed are when sexual penetration occurs as follows:

  • By using force without severely injuring the victim
  • The actor is a supervisor of or is responsible for disciplining the victim according to the law or due to their occupation or profession
  • The victim is 16-years-old but less than 18 years old and:
    • They are related
    • The actor is a supervisor of or is responsible for disciplining the victim according to the law or due to their occupation or profession
    • The actor is a parent or guardian
  • The victim is between 13 and 16 years of age and the offender is four or more years older

First-Degree Aggravated Sexual Assault

The maximum penalties that may be imposed include 20 years in prison and up to a $200,000 fine. The crime is committed when sexual penetration occurs as follows:

  • The victim is under the age of 13
  • The victim is at least 13 years old but under the age of 16 and:
    • They are related
    • The actor is a supervisor of or is responsible for disciplining the victim according to the law or due to their occupation or profession
    • The actor is a parent or guardian
  • It occurs while committing a robbery, homicide, burglary or similar offense
  • The actor has possession of a weapon or implies that they possess a weapon
  • The actor is aided by another person and the acts involve force or coercion
  • The victim is injured by the use of force
  • The actor is aware that the victim is helpless, mentally impaired, or otherwise not able to provide consent

Third-Degree Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault

The maximum penalties that may be imposed include five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. This crime is committed when sexual contact occurs as follows:

  • The victim is a minimum of 13 years old and is under the age of 16 and
    • They are related
    • The actor is a supervisor of or is responsible for disciplining the victim according to the law or due to their occupation or profession
    • The actor is a parent or guardian
  • It occurs while committing a robbery, homicide, burglary or similar offense
  • The actor has possession of a weapon or implies that they possess a weapon
  • The actor is aided by another person and the acts involve force or coercion
  • The victim is injured by the use of force
  • The actor is aware that the victim is helpless, mentally impaired, or otherwise not able to provide consent

Defining Sexual Contact, Sexual Penetration, and Lewdness

Sexual contact may involve intentionally touching intimate areas or parts either directly or through the clothing. It also may be committed by an actor who touches their intimate areas or parts in the presence of a victim. These acts are committed to humiliate or demean the victim or for the perpetrator's sexual arousal or gratification.

Sexual penetration is defined as any acts of vaginal, oral or anal penetration involving a body part or object. Lewdness may be committed by exposure of one's intimate parts for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification. These acts may be committed in the presence of a child less than 13 years of age by an actor that is four or more years older than the child. The offense may also be committed by performing these acts in the presence of an individual who is mentally impaired or otherwise incapable of understanding the “sexual nature of the actor's” behavior.

Mandatory Sentencing for Sexual Assault Offenders

It is important to know that New Jersey's No Early Release Act (NERA) applies to those convicted of both sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The provisions state that these offenders are ineligible for parole until they have completed at least 85% of their prison sentence. Other offenses that are subject to this act include murder, kidnapping, and more.

Violations of a Sexual Assault Restraining Order

When probable cause exists that an individual violated a restraining order, law enforcement officers may arrest and take the suspect into custody. The defendant may be charged with contempt, which may be a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months of imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.

Legal Representation for Those Facing a Restraining Order

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience representing clients facing allegations of sexual violence. He will effectively pursue positive outcomes in restraining order hearings and defend against any potential criminal charges. Contact the office today for a consultation 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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