Essex County Sex Crime Lawyer
Crimes involving sexual violence are among the most heavily-punished offenses under New Jersey law. In addition to enormous fines and long-term imprisonment, individuals convicted of sexual violence can also face mandatory sex offender registration under Megan’s Law (which may be made public), parole supervision for life, and loss of parental rights through the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP).
At The Gorman Law Firm, we provide strategic and vigorous legal representation for individuals charged with sex crimes throughout New Jersey. If you have been charged with any form of sexual violence, your future is on the line, and your only option is to take your case extremely seriously. We have particular experience in cases involving domestic violence, and attorney Scott Gorman has well over a decade of experience helping clients avoid unjust punishment in the New Jersey criminal courts.
Sexual Violence, Sexual Assault, Rape and Other Sex-Related Offenses
In New Jersey, rape and other forms of sexual violence are prosecuted under Section 2C:14-2 of the Code of Criminal Justice, which establishes the crimes of “sexual assault” and “aggravated sexual assault.” Sex offenders are also subject to New Jersey’s Parole Supervision for Life statute and Megan’s Law, which impose additional penalties for individuals convicted under Section 2C:14-2. When the offense is an act of domestic violence, sexual assault can also result in the imposition of a permanent restraining order.
Under Section 2C:14-2, a person can be charged with second-degree sexual assault under two scenarios: (i) if he or she, “commits an act of sexual contact with a victim who is less than 13 years old and the actor is at least four years older than the victim;” or, (ii) if he or she, “commits an act of sexual penetration with another person,” under any of the prohibited circumstances listed in the statute. These circumstances include (but are not limited to):
- Using physical force or coercion without causing severe injury;
- Acts involving minors between the ages of 16 and 18; and,
- Acts involving minors between the ages of 13 and 16 where the defendant is at least four years older than the victim.
As a second-degree indictable offense, sexual assault is punishable by five to 10 years of incarceration and up to a $150,000 fine.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. Individuals convicted of aggravated sexual assault can face prison terms of 25 years to life, with a mandatory sentence of 25 years before becoming eligible for parole. Section 2C:14-2 defines aggravated sexual assault as an act of sexual penetration involving:
- A victim who is less than 13 years old;
- A victim who is between the ages of 13 and 16 and who has a designated relationship with the defendant;
- Commission or attempted commission of robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson or criminal escape;
- Threatened use of a weapon or an object that appears to be a weapon;
- Aiding or abetting by another person along with use of physical force or coercion;
- Use of physical force or coercion resulting in severe personal injury to the victim; or,
- A victim whom the defendant knew, “was physically helpless or incapacitated, intellectually or mentally incapacitated, or had a mental disease or defect.”
Criminal Sexual Contact
Under Section 2C:14-3b of the New Jersey Criminal Code of Justice, criminal sexual contact is defined as having sexual contact with a victim under any of the following circumstances:
- The actor uses physical force or coercion, but without causing severe personal injury;
- The actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over a victim who is on probation or parole, in a hospital, or detained in a prison or other institution;
- The victim is between the ages of 16 and 18, and the actor is related to the victim, has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim, or the actor is a resource family parent or guardian; or,
- The victim is between the age of 13 and 16, and the actor is at least four years older than the victim.
New Jersey law defines sexual contact as “intentional touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor.” The law also specifies that in cases involving an actor having sexual contact with himself, the act must be, “in view of the victim whom the actor knows to be present.”
Criminal sexual contact is a fourth-degree indictable offense. This means that you will need to hire an Essex County sex crimes attorney to help you seek to avoid up to a $10,000 fine and 18 months of imprisonment.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
Under Section 2C:14-3a, the crime of aggravated criminal sexual contact is defined as the commission of criminal sexual contact under any of the circumstances that transform sexual assault to aggravated sexual assault, with the exception of having criminal sexual contact with a victim under the age of 13. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third-degree indictable crime carrying up to a $15,000 fine and three to five years of imprisonment.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child
Endangering the welfare of a child is a second-degree indictable offense in New Jersey when it involves sexual conduct by a person having responsibility for the care of a child, “which would impair or debauch the morals of the child.” When committed by any other person, the crime is a third-degree indictable offense. This encompasses virtually all forms of sexual conduct committed against, or in the presence of, a minor under the age of 18.
Child Sexual Abuse or Molestation
Child sexual abuse and molestation can be prosecuted as sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact or aggravated criminal sexual contact depending on the specific circumstances involved.
When warranted, prosecutors will also pursue luring charges. Under Section 2C:13-6 of the Criminal Code of Justice, luring is defined as attempting, “via electronic or any other means, to lure or entice a child . . . into a motor vehicle, structure or isolated area, or to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.” Luring is a second-degree indictable offense.
Failure to Register or Report Under Megan’s Law
Failure to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law is a criminal offense in New Jersey. If you have been convicted of a sex crime requiring registration as a sex offender and you have not registered, you can face fines and prison time as a result.
New Jersey law also establishes the crime of failure to report. As a registered sex offender in New Jersey, you must report any change in your address or place of employment to the police. If you don’t, you can be charged with failure to report and face up to a $10,000 fine and 18 months behind bars.
Child Pornography Crimes
Child pornography crimes are among the most severely punished sex crimes under New Jersey law. For example, under Section 2C:24-4b(3), it is a first-degree indictable offense to cause or permit a child to “engage in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act if the person knows, has reason to know or intends that the prohibited act may be photographed [or] filmed . . . .” First-degree indictable offenses can carry up to 30 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.
Other child pornography crimes in New Jersey include:
- Possessing child pornography
- Viewing child pornography
- Distributing child pornography
- Uploading child pornography to a file-sharing platform
FAQs: Defending Yourself with the Help of an Essex County Sex Crimes Lawyer
What Can an Essex County Sex Crimes Attorney Do To Help Me?
If you are facing charges for sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, or any other sex crime in New Jersey, there are many ways an Essex County sex crimes attorney can help you. If you are innocent, your attorney can work to prove your innocence and protect you from the life-altering consequences of a conviction. However, if you have committed a sex crime, your attorney may still be able to assert various defenses on your behalf. In this scenario, your attorney will either seek to help you avoid a conviction based on lack of evidence or constitutional violations or work to ensure that your sentence is as light as possible.
Is Consent a Defense to Sex Crime Charges in New Jersey?
Consent can be a defense to sex crime charges in some cases. If you are being accused of rape, sexual assault or any other sex crime and you believe that you had consent for the sexual act in question, Essex County sex crimes lawyer Scott Gorman can review your case and determine if this is a viable defense.
If I Am Facing Child Pornography Charges, is It a Defense that I Didn’t Know that the Image or Video Depicted a Child?
No, in New Jersey, child pornography crimes are “strict liability” offenses. This means that it doesn’t matter whether you knew (or didn’t know) that one or more of the individuals depicted were children. The law specifically states: “[I]t shall not be a defense that the actor did not know that the child was under the age of 18, nor shall it be a defense that the actor believed that the child was 18 years of age or older.”
Schedule a Free Consultation With Essex County Sex Crime Lawyer Scott Gorman
If you have been charged with sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault or any other sex-related criminal offense in New Jersey, you need experienced legal representation. To discuss your case with Essex County sex crime lawyer Scott Gorman, please call (201) 489-9199 or submit your information online now. We have offices in Essex County and Morristown.