No one likes to think about child abuse. It's hard to imagine that someone could hurt someone so innocent and precious. But the truth is, it happens more than you think. Child sexual abuse is a prevalent issue in our communities. And people who commit such heinous crimes deserve the full extent of the law.
If you've been charged with this crime, the legal process is going to be an uphill battle. There are strong policies behind bringing these types of charges, even with limited evidence. If you are hoping to get justice and avoid jail time, the help of a New Jersey criminal defense attorney is imperative.
The sexual abuse of a child is a form of child abuse in New Jersey. Sexual abuse comes in many forms, including rape, molestation, incest, and sexual harassment. In most cases, the abuser is someone the victim is well acquainted with and trusts.
But what constitutes abuse? According to New Jersey statutes, abuse is proven by evidence of:
- Physical injury by other than accidental means
- A substantial risk of death or serious disfigurement or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health
Of course, sexual abuse is traumatic and often leads to feelings of depression, guilt, fear, and shame. Therefore, this behavior undoubtedly meets the definition of abuse.
The state encourages anyone who has witnessed child abuse, or has reason to believe this behavior is occurring, to immediately contact the Division of Youth and Family Services.
People who have regular access to children, like teachers, social workers, youth group counselors, doctors, etc. are deemed mandatory reporters by law. This means that they have an obligation to report to the state division if they have an inclination that a child has been subjected to sexual abuse.
If you know of child abuse happening and you fail to report it to the state division, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense with a punishment of a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. So, even if you have doubts about potential abuse, but it's better to call and be wrong than ignore it and be right.
Understanding Criminal & Civil Court
In child sex abuse cases, there are two types of remedies. The state may bring criminal charges in a criminal action, or a victim or parents of the victim can file a civil lawsuit against the abuser to hold them liable. A lot of victims partake in both types of proceedings.
If charges are filed for a criminal proceeding, a conviction can affect a civil case and vice versa. For example, a guilty verdict can make it easier to prove that an abuser is liable in a civil case. The Lento Law Firm can help defend you if you're ever in this situation.
The Sex Offender Registry
Sex offenders who have been convicted of a child sexual abuse charge since the adoption of Megan's law in 1994 are required to register. Immediately after prosecution, offenders are required to fill out a form and submit it to their local police department. This form requests very personal information of the offender, including their full name and aliases, a residential address, license plate and registration numbers, workplace locations, email addresses, any online usernames and identities, a description of the crime, their level of risk, a recent photograph, and more.
All of this information will be sent to all the community members in the offender's neighborhood. This information is also available online.
New Jersey Family Law Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the stigma that comes with these crimes, and he offers compassionate legal counsel in a confidential setting. To set up a consultation, contact him online or by phone at 888-535-3686.