Sexual Assault With a Minor in New Jersey
A Riverdale resident faces charges of sexual assault after police discovered sexually explicit text messages sent to a 12-year-old. The charges are the result of a tip to police from the mother of the girl, who found the messages on her daughter’s phone. The Passaic County Sheriff’s Office used the tip to identify Michael Chiuchiolo Jr. (48), who was portraying himself to the girl as a teenager and arrested him. According to police, Chiuchiolo sent a gift to the young girl as well as a list of rules that she had to follow when contacting him. He now faces several charges including attempted aggravated sexual assault of a minor, attempted sexual assault of a minor, endangering the welfare of a minor, and obscene material for persons under the age of 18. So what do these charges mean, and what are the potential consequences?
Sexual Assault Laws In New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, an individual can be charged with aggravated sexual assault if they make “sexual contact” with a person who is less than 13 years old. This is a first degree crime in the state, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. It is important to note that a first-degree charge comes without a statute of limitations, which means someone can be charged years or even decades after the alleged assault took place.
Under Megan’s Law, all persons convicted of a first-degree offense under the law must register as a sex offender. The second degree offense of sexual assault, defined as sexual contact to a child under 13 by someone at least four years older, comes with a maximum possible 10-year prison term with the potential of being registered as a sex offender. There is no wiggle room here when it comes to the age of the victim if the perpetrator is at least four years older than the child. Under 13 means under 13, part of the New Jersey legislature’s commitment to protecting children in the state.
Endangering the welfare of a child may not make sense on its face, but statutorily this law is often used in child pornography cases. This offense can be charged as either a second or a third degree crime, which carry a possible five to 10 or three to five year prison term. Anyone under the age of consent (which is 18 in New Jersey) is a possible victim, unlike the under 13 age range listed for the charges above.
Just because someone did not make physical contact with a minor doesn’t mean they haven’t committed a crime. The laws are written to stop child pornography and sexual images and exchanges via the internet and phone.
Even being accused of sexual crimes against a minor carries consequences and a stigma that can affect a person for years to come. Megan’s Law was written to protect minors against sexual abuse, and it forces individuals to register as sex offenders when convicted of certain sexual crimes. For this reason, it is imperative that someone accused of these serious crimes call an experienced criminal defense attorney. Avoiding registration under Megan’s Law or lifetime parole supervision may be possible, but not without the help of an experienced attorney. Call someone!
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Charges in New Jersey Today!
Were you arrested or charged with sexual assault in NJ? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. Jill R. Cohen has successfully represented clients charged with sexual assault in Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, and Burlington County, NJ. Call 856-754-5501 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Avenue , Westmont, NJ 08108.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.