Consent is the difference between sanctioned sexual conduct and criminalsexual conduct. If one party cannot, or makes clear that he or she does not,want to partake in sexual contact with another party, his or her wishes must berespected. If the acting party instead continues to engage in sexual contactwith his or her victim, he or she may be charged with sexual assault. If thecrime meets certain circumstances outlines in N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3, he or she alsofaces criminal sexual conduct charges.
Criminal sexual conduct laws exist to prevent sexual assaults againstchildren and people with disabilities by making the punishments for assaultsagainst these groups harsher. These charges are often added onto sexual assaultcharges.
In its basic form, criminal sexual conduct is a fourth degree crime. If thedefendant is a parent, guardian, or stands in loco parentis to the victim andany of the following circumstances occur, he or she may be charged with fourthdegree criminal sexual conduct.
- The victim is younger than sixteen years old.
- The sexual action is committed during a successful or attempted robbery,arson, burglary, kidnapping, homocide or criminal escape.
- The perpetrator uses a weapon or object that could ostensibly be used as aweapon to to coerce the victim into allowing sexual contact.
The penalties for a fourth degree criminal sexual conduct charge are a jailsentence of up to eighteen months and a fine of up to $10,000. Any personconvicted of criminal sexual conduct may also be subject to Megan’s Lawrequirements and community supervision for the remainder of his or her life.
The charges raise to aggravated criminal sexual conduct, a third degreecrime, if the defendant commits an act of sexual penetration and any of thefollowing conditions are met:
- The victim is between thirteen and sixteen years old
- The act is committed during a successful or attempted robbery, burglary,homocide, arson, kidnapping or criminal escape.
- The offender possesses or threatens to use a weapon or object that couldreasonably be used as a weapon to extort sexual contact from his or hervictim.
- The offender knew the victim was physically or mentally incapable ofdefending him- or herself against the attack, whether permanently ortemporarily.
Third degree crimes are punishable by three to five years in jail and finesof up to $150,000. Like fourth degree criminal sexual conduct convictions,offenders guilty of aggravated criminal sexual conduct are subject to lifelongsupervision and Megan’s Law requirements.
Megan’s Law is an act that was signed into law in 1994 that requires sexoffenders to register with a database that allows law enforcement to see wherethey live and make their presence in a neighborhood known to the public. In2001, Megan’s Law was updated to include an internet registry requirement. Thelaw is named for Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped andmurdered by her neighbor in 1994. Recent studies have had mixed results aboutthe effectiveness that Megan’s Law has had on lowering sex crime rates. Despitethe questionable outcome Megan’s Law has had on New Jersey communities, itcontinues to be a part of most sexual assault and criminal sexual conductconvictions. Convicted sex offenders must register with the Sex OffenderRegistry for the rest of their lives. Failing to register is a fourth degreecrime.
Actions considered to be sexual in nature are the touching of the breasts,genitals, buttocks, groin, inner thighs and anal area. Touching can be direct orthrough the victim’s clothing. To be considered criminal sexual contact, thetouching must be done intentionally and with the purpose to either degrade orhumiliate the victim, or around or sexually gratify the offender. The victim’sage is a key part of determining the criminality of a sexual act because it isillegal for an adult to have sexual contact with a child under the age ofsixteen in New Jersey. Additional language in N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2 states age ofconsent laws for relationships where both parties are younger than eighteenyears old. For adults over the age of eighteen, sexual contact with any personyounger than sixteen is illegal, regardless of whether or not the minorconsented to sexual contact.
If you have been accused of criminal sexual conduct, do not take thisaccusation lightly. A sexual conviction can haunt you for the rest of your lifeand restrict you from performing certain jobs. Don’t risk losing this fight –choose an experienced criminal attorney who understands New Jersey sexual lawand will help you build a case to prove your innocence. Call Ron Bar-Nadav, Esq.Today at 201-525-1555. Let him be your guide through this difficult, confusingprocess. Don’t wait – your life and career depend onit.