New Jersey Sexual Assault Laws and Penalties
Sexual assault refers to an attack on someone in a sexual way or manner. Legally, the exact definition of sexual assault can vary on a per state basis. Some states simply define sexual conduct without consent as rape, sexual battery, criminal sexual contact, or criminal sexual penetration. Other states may simply define sexual assault as rape (forced sexual intercourse without consent).
Consent in New Jersey
Consent is the most important factor in a sex crime case. When a sexual act is not consented to if an attacker forces another person into a sexual act against their will or if the victim is considered to be incapable of giving consent to the act. If it is the case that one of the parties involved in a sexual act is a minor under the age of fourteen or fifteen, it is normally deemed illegal by the state, which may vary throughout different states. In addition, someone who is mentally ill, developmentally disabled, drugged, drunk, or unconscious may not be able to give legal consent to a sexual act.
Defendants charged with sexual assault have the most common defense available to anyone accused of a crime, beginning with “Someone else committed this offense.” A defendant also can claim that the sexual activity was consensual or that the victim was able to, and did indeed give consent. In a sexual assault case it can be a very difficult task being able to define questions about what constitutes consent or what constitutes refusal. The defendant may also use an insanity defense, where the defense argues that the accused attacker is mentally ill and cannot control their behavior or even understand that what they were doing was wrong or illegal.
Oftentimes, states across the country divide the crime of rape into degrees such as rape in the first and second degree. The degree of the charge will depend specific circumstances including the type of force used, whether or not the attack resulted in serious bodily injury, or whether it was committed using a deadly weapon, which would be considered “rape at gunpoint”.
Sentences for such crimes can range from one year to life imprisonment. This depends largely on the specific laws of individual states and their unique guidelines for sentencing. It is common that states may require a minimum prison sentence for specific charges and may even require a court to eliminate the possibility of parole for a person found guilty of such crimes. On the other hand, a judge may have more influence in determining the length of a sentence or the availability of parole.
Get Experienced Legal Representation Today
Any type of sex crime including sexual assault, rape or criminal sexual penetration is always a very serious charge and should not be taken lightly. Being convicted of rape or even misdemeanor sexual battery can have a serious impact in your life. A prison sentence for such crimes can be extremely long and there is no guarantee that a judge will decide to grant someone parole.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight for your freedom against such charges and will strive to obtain the best possible outcome for you. John W. Tumelty has years of experience dealing with sexual assault cases and will begin to work for you immediately.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.