Statutory Rape Penalties in New Jersey
Statutory rape is a very serious crime and there may be times when the perpetrator does not even realize a crime is being committed. In the state of New Jersey, it is against the law for anyone 18 years or older to have sex with someone 16 years of age or younger, regardless if the sex is consensual. The law is based on the assumption that minors 16 years old or younger are not capable of using sound reasoning when consenting to having sex.
The minimum age for someone to consent to sex varies from state to state. Although statutory rape differs considerably from forced rape, it is still considered a rape. New Jersey statutory rape is prosecuted under sexual assault laws.
Penalties for Sex Crimes in New Jersey
The penalties for sexual assault in New Jersey vary based on the details of the crime. The rape is considered a sex crime if it involves a person aged 13, 14, or 15 having sexual contact with a person who is at least four years older. A defendant can receive a jail sentence for up to 18 months for committing this offense.
Sexual assault also includes sexual contact between a minor who is younger than 13 and a person at least four years older than the child. This offense is punishable with five to ten years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault is when a victim 13 years of age or younger is sexually penetrated with a body part or object. If convicted, the defendant faces a possible prison sentence of 10 to 20 years. In addition to the penalties, defendants convicted of statutory rape will be registered as sex offenders.
Criminal Legal Defense for Sexual Assault Charges
A person charged with statutory rape is entitled to all criminal defenses including “I didn’t do it.” Defenses unique to statutory rape include:
- Mistake in age: A defendant can claim that he or she was not aware of the other person’s age, stating that the victim claimed to be of consensual age.
- Sex between two people close in age: Named the “Romeo and Juliet Exception,” this New Jersey law protects young people from being convicted if the victim is older than 13 and the other person is less than four years older.
Individuals accused of statutory rape in New Jersey should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to ensure the best representation available.
Cherry Hill Criminal Lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, Defends those Accused of Sex Crimes in New Jersey
If you have been charged with a New Jersey sex crime or any criminal offense in New Jersey, choosing the right criminal defense lawyer is vital for a favorable outcome. Camden County criminal lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, Esq., has experience as a former prosecutor which gives her the distinct advantage of knowing how the other side thinks and what legal strategies will work best in your defense.
Attorney Cohen has defended cases throughout Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Salem County, Burlington County, Mercer County and Cumberland County as well as in Cherry Hill, Westmont, Haddonfield and in Camden City. Call the Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen located in Westmont, New Jersey or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation to discuss a defense strategy for statutory rape crimes in New Jersey.