Sexual Abuse in New Jersey

The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) reports that there are approximately 1.8 million people in New Jersey who have been victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence is one form of sexually-based abuse. Black's Law Dictionary defines abuse as simply an act of misusing something or harming someone with cruelty. Sexual abuse may be committed with or without actual physical contact.

Child Sexual Abuse

Children are commonly victims of sexual abuse based on their potential vulnerability. An adult may use manipulation or coercion to expose a child to a sexual act or to allow them to engage in sexual activity. How prevalent is the problem? Roughly 17% of women and 3% percent of men have experienced a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault in the U.S. Incidents of sexual abuse are also among the most underreported crimes, which is based on a host of factors including fear, shame, and more.

The Emergence of Human Trafficking

Legislators, the judiciary, and law enforcement have taken notice of this type of criminal activity. There are presently over 12 million individuals who have been victimized through human trafficking. Unfortunately, more than 100,000 of the victims are children with an average age of 13.  The offense may be referred to as commercial sexual abuse.

The crime of human trafficking (2C:13-8) in the first degree is committed when someone is held, recruited, or lured to participate in sexual activity by any of the following:

  • Through threats of physical harm, restraint, or coercion
  • Through the destruction or confiscation of any documents such as a passport that is issued by a government agency that is used to confirm the age or identity of a potential victim
  • By using tactics that are fraudulent, deceptive, or misrepresented
  • By providing access to a controlled substance

Offenders may also be ordered to make restitution to the victim based on the estimated income generated by the victim's labor or calculated according to state or federal guidelines relating to wages and labor.

Human Trafficking (Second Degree)

A second-degree offense may be committed by contributing “resources or assistance with the knowledge” used to facilitate human trafficking. Examples may include monetary support, accommodations, transportation, or fabricated documents or identification. It is necessary to prove that the offender acted knowing that they were assisting with a crime of human trafficking. This may be determined by showing that the offender was aware that a victim did not have “freedom of movement” or was restricted from freely using communication devices.

Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor

The offense may be committed by posting, distributing, or otherwise disseminating advertising for commercial sexual activity that depicts a minor. This is a first-degree offense.

Sexual Assault

Acts of sexual assault are physical forms of abuse often referred to as rape that may be charged as first or second-degree offenses. It may be committed through non-consensual sexual penetration, which may include “vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or insertion of the hand, finger or object into the anus or vagina.” These acts are committed by coercion or through the usage of physical force.

Criminal Sexual Contact

Acts of criminal sexual contact are abusive to a lesser extent than sexual assault and are charged as third or fourth-degree offenses. It may be committed by knowingly touching the victim without their consent near the genitals, anal region, breast, etc. These acts may be made to demean or humiliate the victim or for the offender's own sexual gratification or arousal.

Endangering Welfare of Children (2C:24-4)

Child endangerment may be committed if a parent, guardian, or another party responsible for a child's care allows for the child to participate in sexual activity that “would impair or debauch the morals of the child.” This is a form of abuse that is charged as a second-degree offense or a third-degree offense if the adult is not the child's parent or guardian.

This crime may also be committed when someone allows or causes a child to participate in unlawful sexual activity that is being documented in pictures, videos, or another depiction. This is generally a second-degree offense; however, is enhanced to a first-degree offense if the offender is a parent, guardian, or another person responsible for the child's care.

Genital Mutilation (2C:24-10)

It is a third-degree criminal offense to circumcise or remove the genitals of a female that is less than 18-years-old. The crime may also be committed by a parent or guardian who purposefully allows for the minor's genitals to be mutilated. This does not apply to surgical procedures performed by a licensed healthcare professional when deemed as medically necessary.

Criminal Penalties

Offense Level

Imprisonment (Maximum)


First Offense

20 years

Maximum of $200,000

Second Degree

10 years

Maximum of $150,000

Third Degree

5 years

Maximum of $15,000

Fourth Degree

18 months

Maximum of $10,000

Added Penalties for Sexual Offenses (2C:14-10)

An additional monetary penalty may be imposed on offenders for helping to support the Sex Crime Victim Treatment Fund.

  • First Degree: $2,000
  • Second Degree: $1,000
  • Third Degree: $750
  • Fourth Degree: $500

Protection Orders

The court may impose orders of protection for the safety of alleged victims of sexually-based offenses. These orders prohibit an alleged perpetrator or convicted offender from contacting the victim or their family members. The court may also impose other conditions at their discretion for the interests of safety.

Sex Offender Registration

Those convicted of serious sex offenses may be added to the state's central sex offender database according to Megan's Law. This is a registry that is available to the public and may be used by law enforcement when investigating related crimes. The offender must confirm their address every 90 days. Offenders are classified into three tiers based on the likelihood they may re-offend.

Offender HIV/AIDS and DNA Testing

Certain sex offenders may be subjected to testing for HIV or AIDS as either a requirement or upon the request of a victim. Offenders may also be required to provide a DNA sample that is added to a database. This also applies to juveniles who were found to be delinquent resulting from these types of offenses.

Defense Attorney for Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Those facing allegations of a sexually-based offense understand the potentially devastating consequences. If convicted, you may have a lengthy prison sentence, overwhelming fines, and be required to register as a sex offender. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a compassionate professional that knows what it takes to effectively challenge the allegations as part of a broad defense strategy. Contact the office for a confidential and complimentary case consultation today at (888) 535-3686.

​​​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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