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New Jersey seeks stiffer penalties for child sex offenders

Last week, a bill was approved by the New Jersey senate that could have serious implications for individuals accused of sex crimes. The bill, called the Jessica Lunsford Act, was introduced in 2005 in the wake of a 9-year-old that was taken from her home, raped and killed by a registered sex offender.

With this act, those convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child younger than 13 would be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. To emphasize, 25 years would be the minimum sentence, a convicted individual could be sentence to spend the rest of their life in prison for this crime under this act.

Further, under this act, any individual convicted of harboring an individual that is convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child under 13 years old, would also be sentenced to jail for at least six months in addition to as much as $10,000 in fines.

One senator that voted for the bill made sure that it was know that he wished to ensure that this act would not sentence teenagers that had consensual sex according to these guidelines. For example, if a 13-year-old were to have sex with a 12-year-old, the 13-year-old would not be sentenced to 25 years in prison. It is reported that a 13-year-old would be tried as a juvenile, therefore not subjected to the same sentencing guidelines.

Sex crimes are among the most serious charges to be leveled against an individual. Often, before any allegations even make it to trial, the accused is already marred in the court of public opinion. Aside from that, with the possibility of harsher sentencing, New Jersey residents accused of any sex crime would do extremely well to seek experienced legal counsel that will provide an aggressive defense.

Source: Philly.com, "N.J. Senate passes stiffer terms for child sex offenders," Joelle Farrell, Oct. 6, 2012

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