Being charged with or convicted of a federal or state sex crime can disrupt and ruin every aspect of a person’s life. Under New Jersey law, a sex crime is a general term. It essentially refers to any criminal charge involving sexual activity.
This definition can include sexual assault or contact, child sexual abuse, molestation, prostitution, lewdness, and other related sexual offenses. Many sex crimes are prosecuted under both state and federal laws.
If you have been charged with a federal or state sex crime in New Jersey, you will likely be facing an uphill battle. Given the public’s extremely negative perception of sex offenders and child molesters, the odds of finding sympathy from a judge or jury in a sex offense case are slim. Therefore, the importance of having a skilled and knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense lawyer on your side throughout your case cannot be overstated.
In a sex crimes case—as in any criminal case—you always have rights under the law.
New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Brian J. Neary has more than 35 years defending individuals who have been charged with sex crimes and other serious criminal offenses. Our law firm can safeguard your legal and constitutional rights, help you formulate legal defenses against your charge, and assist you in deciding whether to accept a plea bargain offered by the State. We may also be able to help you obtain a penalty reduction upon conviction or a dismissal of your case.
Defining Sexual Assault in New Jersey
In New Jersey, “sexual assault” is the legal term for rape. Sexual assault refers to the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. “Penetration” refers to vaginal, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal intercourse between persons or the insertion of a hand, finger, or object into the anus or vagina, either by the defendant or upon the defendant’s instruction.
Sexual assault is a crime in the State of New Jersey and the penalties upon conviction depend upon the nature of the crime, as well as the age of the alleged victim. In most cases, sexual assault is prosecuted as a second-degree offense and carries with it a maximum 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious sex crime in New Jersey. An individual may be charged with aggravated sexual assault if the following are true:
- The victim is under the age of 16 and the defendant is related by blood or has supervisory power over the child
- The sexual act is committed during the commission or attempted commission of a robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, or criminal escape
- There is a weapon involved and the defendant either uses it or threatens to use it
- The defendant is aided by one or more persons, and physical force or coercion is used
- The victim is physically helpless, mentally defective, or mentally incapacitated
- Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree crime in New Jersey, and, upon conviction, carries up to 20 years in prison.
The Lifelong Impact of a New Jersey Sex Crime Conviction
Being convicted of a sex crime can severely limit a person’s reputation, liberty, associations, and living arrangements. This conviction will affect every aspect of a person’s life. In this age of frequent criminal background checks and easy access to online information, a sex crime conviction can make it difficult, if not impossible, to do the following:
- Find a decent place to live
- Obtain and keep a good job
- Attend school at a college or university
Due to the potential heavy penalties resulting from a New Jersey sex crime conviction, you should always speak with a criminal defense lawyer before doing any of the following:
- Speaking with the police or investigators
- Admitting anything to the police
- Answering any questions
Anything that you say to a police officer or detective can be used against you in a negative way at trial. You have a constitutional right to speak with legal counsel before answering any questions, and you have an absolute right to legal representation at all stages of your criminal case.
Sex Offender Registries
National and State Sex Offender Registries (Megan’s Law Registration) The State of New Jersey imposes very harsh penalties on felony sex crime convictions. Penalties can range in severity, depending upon the nature of the charge, and can extend up to a life prison sentence.
A convicted sex offender will usually have to register for both the national and the state sex offender registries. This also requires that the defendant’s picture be posted online. Since these are lifetime registries, the criminal defendant’s sex offender profile will remain online forever.
Even worse, some sexual crime convictions require that the offender be placed on “Parole Supervision for Life” (PSL). This requires constant supervision by a specially assigned parole officer, travel, and internet-access restrictions.
Internet Sex Crimes
Being charged with or convicted of an internet sex crime can potentially disrupt and ruin every aspect of both your personal and professional life. While sex crimes may include rape, child sexual abuse, molestation, prostitution, indecent exposure, and other related criminal offenses, if the internet is involved, the offense will likely be deemed an internet sex crime. Because the internet is involved, you could be charged under both federal and state laws.
Internet sex crimes may include any of the following:
- Attempted sexual misconduct arising out of police internet stings, where the police impersonate a real person
- Solicitation of a minor child to engage in sexual activity, regardless of whether the plan is carried out
- Travel to meet a minor to engage in an unlawful sexual activity
As with other sex crimes, if the defendant is convicted of an internet sex crime, he or she likely must register for both the national and state sex offender registries for life. This requires that the defendant’s picture be posted online as a sex offender.
Contact a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Sex crimes in the State of New Jersey are serious, and a conviction can potentially have lifelong consequences. The legal team at the Law Offices of Brian J. Neary can meet with you to discuss your version of the facts and events and can work with you to formulate an effective and aggressive legal defense to your charges.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a New Jersey sexual assault attorney, please call us today at (201) 801-4431 or contact us online.