In New Jersey, there is no separate crime of “rape.” Instead, rape accusations fall under a broader category known as “sexual assault.” There are various levels of sexual assault, the most serious of which is “aggravated assault assault.” There is also a lesser offense referred to as “criminal sexual contact,” which may be issued in cases that do not meet the criteria for sexual assault. Being accused of rape means you may face any of these very serious charges, which are explained in greater detail below. If you are charged with a sex crime, learn more about these charges and the possible punishments here. The next vital step is to seek help from an experienced defense attorney. Call (201)-330-4979 to speak with a local Bergen County sex crime defense lawyer at our firm free of charge.
Rape Related Criminal Charges in Bergen County, New Jersey
If you are arrested for allegedly raping someone, the most serious crime you could be charged with is aggravated sexual assault. This offense is classified as a crime of the first degree, which means that it has the harshest penalties of any of the sex-related charges. It may include life in prison and the mandatory sentence must consist of a minimum of 25 years in prison. An aggravated sexual assault charge involves accusations of “sexual penetration” with another person under specific circumstances. The term sexual penetration means more than just “traditional” sex, however. It also includes any form of penetration and could involve the hand, finger, or an object. This more severe type of rape charge will only arise under certain circumstances, including when the allegations involve a child under the age of 13, a family member, if a weapon is used, if the conduct occurs in the course of committing another crime, or if the defendant is acting in the assistance of someone else and using force.
Defining Sexual Assault in Hackensack
Sexual assault is a lesser form of a rape charge in New Jersey. It involves sexual penetration where force is used, but there is no severe personal injury, the victim is in a hospital or on parole, the victim is at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old, or the actor is related by blood or affinity to the third degree.
It can include sexual contact (not specifically sexual penetration) in situations that involve a victim who is less than 13 years old, but only if the actor is at least four years older than the child. Otherwise, the charge will fall under aggravated sexual assault. The penalties for a sexual assault conviction include prison time of not less than 15 years, but there is a bit more discretion in plea negotiations in this type of case compared to aggravated sexual assault.
What is Considered Criminal Sexual Contact?
A lesser set of crimes that is related to sex acts includes criminal sexual contact and aggravated criminal sexual contact. Sexual contact generally means inappropriate or unwanted touching. It can be direct touching, or it can be through the clothing. The purpose must be for degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or gratifying the actor. That means that there is no such thing as “accidental” criminal sexual contact. Any unwanted, intentional sexual contact could trigger a charge of criminal sexual contact. The intimate areas included under this offense include sexual organs, inner thigh, buttock, breast, or groin. Aggravated criminal sexual contact may arise under certain circumstances, specifically if the victim is a blood relative, if the actor has legal or occupational power over the victim, or if the actor is a parent or guardian of a child. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a crime of the third degree while criminal sexual contact is a crime of the fourth degree. That means that aggravated criminal sexual contact and criminal sexual contact involve lesser penalties than could be imposed under a conviction for sexual assault.
Need a Lawyer for Bergen County Rape Charges
If you or a loved one has been charged with a rape related crime in New Jersey, you need competent legal counsel quickly. Do not wait any longer to give our office all call. Our Bergen County sex crime defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience you need to protect your name and your innocence. A member of our team is standing by to help. Contact us at (201)-330-4979 today for a free consultation.