What are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in New Jersey?

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In the state of New Jersey, the legal term for rape is known as sexual assault. Being charged with sexual assault is a very serious offense that can detrimentally impact a person for the rest of their life. This is because, in most cases, they simply do not just pay their debt to society. Instead, these actions can leave a person with a record of being a sex offender, causing difficulties in their life moving forward. It is because of this that those who are accused of committing sexual assault should retain the services of an experienced New Jersey sex crimes attorney to protect them from this uncertain future.

What are the Elements of a Sexual Assault Charge in New Jersey?

New Jersey law defines sexual assault as “the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated.” The following are actions that are considered sexual assault:

  • Having sexual contact with someone under the age of 13 if you are over the age of 17.
  • Committing an act of sexual penetration when using force, the victim is under your control as a prison inmate or probationer, the victim is between the ages of 16 and 18 and you have control over them/are related to them, or if the victim is between 14 and 16 years old and you are four years older than them.

In addition to this, these charges can be upgraded to aggravated sexual assault in the event of any of the following circumstances:

  • The victim is under 13 years old
  • The victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and you are a family member or have control over them
  • The act is committed during the commission of another crime such as assault, murder, robbery, kidnapping, etc.
  • The act is committed using a weapon or the threat of a weapon
  • The act is done with the assistance of another person, using force, or the victim is handicapped or incapacitated

What are the Penalties?

The consequences of committing an act of sexual assault can vary depending on the nature of the crime and the age of the victim in question. However, they are all serious penalties. Sexual assault is usually a second-degree crime that results in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree crime that can result in up to 20 years in prison.

It is important to know that if an individual is convicted of sexual assault in New Jersey, they will be required to register as a sex offender. This is enforced under Megan’s Law. When a person is registered as a sex offender, their registration and information about their conviction can be viewed by friends, neighbors, potential employers, and more. Individuals on the sex offender registry are also required to notify law enforcement of their new address if they decide to move.