Consent is the difference between sanctioned sexual conduct and criminal sexual 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 be respected. If the acting party instead continues to engage in sexual contact with his or her victim, he or she may be charged with sexual assault. If the crime meets certain circumstances outlines in N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3, he or she also faces criminal sexual conduct charges.
Criminal sexual conduct laws exist to prevent sexual assaults against children and people with disabilities by making the punishments for assaults against these groups harsher. These charges are often added onto sexual assault charges.
In its basic form, criminal sexual conduct is a fourth degree crime. If the defendant is a parent, guardian, or stands in loco parentis to the victim and any of the following circumstances occur, he or she may be charged with fourth degree 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 a weapon to to coerce the victim into allowing sexual contact.
The penalties for a fourth degree criminal sexual conduct charge are a jail sentence of up to eighteen months and a fine of up to $10,000. Any person convicted of criminal sexual conduct may also be subject to Megan’s Law requirements and community supervision for the remainder of his or her life.
The charges raise to aggravated criminal sexual conduct, a third degree crime, if the defendant commits an act of sexual penetration and any of the following 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 could reasonably be used as a weapon to extort sexual contact from his or her victim.
The offender knew the victim was physically or mentally incapable of defending him- or herself against the attack, whether permanently or temporarily.
Third degree crimes are punishable by three to five years in jail and fines of up to $150,000. Like fourth degree criminal sexual conduct convictions, offenders guilty of aggravated criminal sexual conduct are subject to lifelong supervision and Megan’s Law requirements.
Megan’s Law is an act that was signed into law in 1994 that requires sex offenders to register with a database that allows law enforcement to see where they live and make their presence in a neighborhood known to the public. In 2001, Megan’s Law was updated to include an internet registry requirement. The law is named for Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered by her neighbor in 1994. Recent studies have had mixed results about the effectiveness that Megan’s Law has had on lowering sex crime rates. Despite the questionable outcome Megan’s Law has had on New Jersey communities, it continues to be a part of most sexual assault and criminal sexual conduct convictions. Convicted sex offenders must register with the Sex Offender Registry for the rest of their lives. Failing to register is a fourth degree crime.
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 or through the victim’s clothing. To be considered criminal sexual contact, the touching must be done intentionally and with the purpose to either degrade or humiliate the victim, or around or sexually gratify the offender. The victim’s age is a key part of determining the criminality of a sexual act because it is illegal for an adult to have sexual contact with a child under the age of sixteen in New Jersey. Additional language in N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2 states age of consent laws for relationships where both parties are younger than eighteen years old. For adults over the age of eighteen, sexual contact with any person younger than sixteen is illegal, regardless of whether or not the minor consented to sexual contact.
If you have been accused of criminal sexual conduct, do not take this accusation lightly. A sexual conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life and restrict you from performing certain jobs. Don’t risk losing this fight – choose an experienced criminal attorney who understands New Jersey sexual law and 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, confusing process. Don’t wait – your life and career depend on it.