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Understanding sexual assault in New Jersey

New Jersey residents may benefit from learning more about the state laws against sexual assault crimes. Sexual assault is considered a crime of the second degree. Several scenarios exist where someone may be accused, charged and convicted of sexual assault. Anyone may be convicted of sexual assault if they are proven to have made sexual contact with a victim at least four years younger and under the age of 13.

It is also considered sexual assault for anyone to commit the act of penetration against a victim using coercion or force, without injury, or against a victim who is under his or her direct disciplinary control, such as a parolee or a detainee in a prison or hospital. If the victim is 16 to 18 years old and is related by blood, under an alleged perpetrator's direct disciplinary control or if the offender lives in the household and possess parental responsibilities, it may be considered sexual assault as well.

Aggravated sexual assault is considered a first-degree crime in New Jersey. Committing the act of penetration against a victim younger than 13 years old is considered aggravated sexual assault. If the victim is 13 to 16 years old and the offender is related to that person, has disciplinary control or acts as a parental figure in the household, the offense may be considered aggravated sexual assault. If the act occurs during the commission of a burglary, escape, arson, homicide, kidnapping or robbery, or if the offender is armed, it may considered an aggravated sexual assault.

Anyone who has been accused of committing an assault offense may benefit from contacting a criminal defense lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to review the evidence and construct a viable defense strategy for the accused. Defense lawyers may focus on examining witnesses' accounts and the investigation conducted by police in an effort to uncover evidence of reasonable doubt that can counter the prosecution's assertions.

Source: Womenslaw.org, "New Jersey Statutes; 2C:14-2. Sexual assault", November 11, 2014

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