Allegations of sex crimes are particularly difficult to completely defend against because even acquittals leave defendants tainted in the eyes of the public who think they know more than the jury. Beating the charges, though, is still critical because of the heavy penalties that crimes of a sexual nature carry. Even after fines have been paid and jail sentences completed, many of the people who have been convicted of a sex crime in New Jersey still have to deal with being on a sex offender registry.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joseph D. Lento to represent you in court, invoke your rights, and show your innocence can be the best investment you can make in your future.
Common Terms Found in New Jersey's Laws for Sex Crimes
Sex crimes come with a lot of terms of art that bear review before diving into the different charges you can face in New Jersey. Not all of these terms are straightforward or easy to understand, and some of them have nuance that can make or break a defense against a serious criminal charge. Some common sex crime terminology New Jersey is:
- Actor: The “actor” often referred to in sex crime laws in New Jersey is the person who allegedly did something in violation of the law. Also known as the “defendant”
- Complainant: The person who is accusing someone else of a sexual crime. Also referred to as the “victim”
- Defendant: The person facing charges for an alleged sex crime. Also known as the “actor”
- Intimate Parts: A person's sexual organs, genital or anal area, inner thigh or groin, butt, or breast
- Minor: Someone under the age of 18
- Sexual Contact: The touching of intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the complainant or gratifying the defendant. Who is doing the touching or being touched does not matter, though if the defendant is touching himself, then it is only sexual contact if the complainant is present and the defendant knows it
- Sexual Penetration: Vaginal or anal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or insertion of a hand, finger, or object into the anus or vagina by the defendant or at the defendant's instruction
- Victim: The “victim” is the person who is claiming to have suffered from conduct that violates New Jersey's laws prohibiting sexual crimes. Also referred to as the “complainant”
Other important definitions for sexual crimes in New Jersey are found at N.J.S.A. 2C:14-1.
Common Sex Offenses in New Jersey
There are some sexual offenses that occur more often in New Jersey than others. While they range in severity, with some carrying many years in jail for a conviction, while others are misdemeanor offenses that rarely lead to jail time, all of them can devastate a defendant's future with a serious blemish on their criminal background.
- Also known as sexual assault in the second degree, rape involves sexual penetration through the use of physical force or coercion – though the complainant is not physically hurt – or when the complainant was physically or mentally incapacitated, or when the complainant was under the legal control or supervision of the defendant
- Rape is a crime of the second degree and carries between five and ten years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000
- N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b)-(c)
Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault is the most severe type of sex crime in New Jersey, and involves sexual penetration with someone under 13, with someone between 13 and 16 if the defendant had a familial relationship with the complainant or disciplinary power over the complainant, with someone during the course of another crime, or using force that produced an injury or with threatened force using a weapon
- Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree crime that carries up to a life sentence, as we as a fine of up to $200,000
- N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)
Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal sexual contact involves sexual contact after using coercion or force that does not lead to a physical injury to the complainant, or with certain minors
- Criminal sexual contact is a fourth-degree offense that carries up to 18 months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines
- N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b)
- Indecent exposure involves exposing intimate parts for the purpose of sexual gratification when the actor reasonably knows that they will be seen either by a child under 13 that is four years younger than the actor, or by someone with a mental incapacity that makes them unable to understand the sexual nature of the exposure
- Indecent exposure is a crime in the fourth degree, punishable with up to $10,000 in fines and up to 18 months in jail
- N.J.S.A 2C:14-4(b)
Sex Offender Registration
One of the penalties that often gets overlooked by those who have been accused of a sex crime in New Jersey is that a conviction can require them to register as a sexual offender for the rest of their life. Not all sex crimes require registration – only those listed at N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 – and those that do group prior sex crime offenders into three tiers based on perceived risk of re-offense, with each tier determining how much information gets revealed to the public. Even those in the first tier with the lowest risk of re-offense, though, have an obligation to notify law enforcement agencies in the area about their presence. Failure to do this can lead to a serious charge for failing to notify the sex offender registry of changes to your status. Most of these offenses are accidental but still carry serious penalties.
New Jersey's Sex Crime Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who represents those in New Jersey who have been accused of a sex crime. Attorney Lento knows of the tricky nature of these allegations, and strives to provide a vigorous, but also tactful defense that protects your rights and interests, as well as your future and reputation. Call sex crime defense lawyer Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 or contact him online.