Understanding Sexual Assault Charges in New Jersey

In New Jersey, sexual assault is a felony with varying consequences and fines depending on the nature of the offense. If you’ve been charged with sexual assault in New Jersey, it’s important to understand the situation you’re facing and what you can do to prepare. It’s also wise to get a hold of a criminal defense attorney in NJ that can give you the right legal advice to prepare for your case. Take advantage of the knowledge of The Law Offices of Zapicchi and Liller to help you understand what to do if you’re up against NJ’s sexual assault laws.

What Constitutes Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a broad term, and while all situations with the sexual assault distinction are bad, there are varying situations that fall under the umbrella. The law defines sexual assault as “penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated.” This definition clarifies the situation more, but there are many more sexual assault laws you should be aware of.

NJ’s Sexual Assault Laws

Sexual assault in New Jersey is divided into these categories:

  • First Degree Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Second Degree Sexual Assault
  • Third Degree Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
  • Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Contact
  • Statutory Rape

First Degree Aggravated Sexual Assault

First-degree aggravated sexual assault is the crime with the highest penalties. This includes the act of sexual penetration or any other kind of sexual contact with victims under 13 years of age, between 13-16, and in a familial/supervisory relationship and other situations:

  • Assault occurred during another crime.
  • Defendant used a weapon to gain a sexual advantage.
  • Defendant used physical force to gain an advantage.
  • Defendant should have known the victim was unable to consent.

Second Degree Sexual Assault

Sexual penetration that doesn’t qualify for 1st-degree aggravated assault counts toward 2nd-degree sexual assault. This includes victims younger than the age of 13 and a defendant older than 17, victims under the direct supervision of the defendant, and victims between 13-16 years old influenced by a defendant four or more years older.

Third Degree Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact

3rd-degree contact is if the defendant initiated contact with intimate parts of the victim for humiliation or degradation, arousal, or gratification. This involves defendants who are older, related to, or in some sort of disciplinary control over the victim.

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Contact

Finally, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is applied if defendants intentionally initiate contact with themselves or victims for the purpose of sexual arousal or humiliation.

Is There a Difference Between Rape and Sexual Assault?

Depending on your state, rape and sexual assault are sometimes listed as separate charges. Some states separate the two by age, the severity of the case, or the type of action committed. In New Jersey, rape is considered sexual assault and falls under the definition of the charge, with statutory rape charges usually falling under the “endangering the welfare of children” distinction.

What Punishments Do You Face if Convicted of Sexual Assault in New Jersey?

Punishments for sexual assault in New Jersey vary by the offense and usually involve jail time. In addition, serious crimes in the state fall under the No Early Release Act, which states that defendants must serve at least 85% of their prison sentence before parole eligibility is granted.

1st Degree Aggrivated Sexual AssaultUp to 20 years in Prison
2nd Degree Sexual Assault5-10 Years in Prison
3rd Aggrivated Criminal Sexual Contact3-5 Years in Prison
4th Degree Criminal Sexual ContactUp to 18 Months in Prison
2nd Degree Endangering Welfare of Child5-10 Years in Prison
3rd Degree Endangering Welfare of Child3-5 Years in Prison
4th Degree Criminal Sexual ConductUp to 18 Months in Prison

Contact Zapicchi and Liller if You Face Sexual Assault Charges in New Jersey

You never want to take a sexual assault allegation lightly, and if you’re facing accusations of sexual assault in New Jersey, it’s important to get in touch with a law firm that understands the process for sex crimes and NJ’s sexual assault laws. The Law Offices of Zapicchi and Liller can help educate you on your next steps, and we don’t just stop at sexual assault crimes. If you’ve recently searched for a “DUI attorney near me“, or are looking for help fighting charges in another matter, reach out to our lawyers ASAP to guide you through the process.