What is the Purpose of Megan’s Law?

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In New Jersey, the legal term for rape is known as sexual assault. Those who face these charges can be subject to significant and detrimental consequences that can impact them for the rest of their life. Sexual assault charges do not simply require the offender to pay a debt to society, rather they can leave a mark on their personal record and follow them for years down the road once they have to register as sex offenders under Megan’s Law. This can make the rest of their life very difficult. It is because of this that those who are accused of these crimes must contact an experienced New Jersey Megan’s Law attorney for a proper defense.

What are the Elements of Sexual Assault?

The state of New Jersey 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 actions are classified as sexual assault in the state:

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

What are some examples of aggravated sexual assault charges?

These charges can be upgraded in certain situations. This is known as aggravated sexual assault. A person may be charged with aggravated sexual assault in the event of the following:

  • 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

The consequences of sexual assault can vary depending on the nature of the crime and the age of the victim. Sexual assault is usually a second-degree crime that leads to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree crime that can require up to 20 years in prison.

How does Megan’s Law impact those accused of sex crimes?

Under Megan’s Law in New Jersey, anyone convicted of sexual assault in New Jersey is required to register as a sex offender. This allows their registration and information regarding their conviction to be viewed by friends, neighbors, potential employers, and more. In addition to this, they are required to provide local law enforcement with their new address if they move to a new location. Essentially, this means that everywhere you go, your sex crime will follow. This can ruin a person’s reputation and life, which is why anyone facing these charges shouldn’t proceed without a competent attorney in their corner who can help combat them from the start.