When it comes to sexual assault charges, the terminology can be confusing and intimidating. Often, you'll come across the term "aggravated" sexual assault. But what distinguishes "aggravated" from "simple" sexual assault? Understanding these factors is critical for anyone involved in such a case, whether you're the accused or the victim. In New Jersey, aggravated sexual assault is considered a serious crime with severe penalties. This article will delve into the various factors that can lead to an aggravated sexual assault charge, the laws specific to New Jersey, and the possible defenses available.
I. Definition of Sexual Assault in New Jersey:
In the state of New Jersey, sexual assault is categorized under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2. The law stipulates that sexual assault occurs when an individual engages in sexual penetration with another person under any of the following circumstances:
- Without the consent of the victim
- The victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless
- The perpetrator has a familial or supervisory relationship over the victim
II. What Makes It "Aggravated"?
The term "aggravated" refers to specific conditions or factors that elevate the severity of the sexual assault charge. When any of these conditions are present, the crime may be elevated from a second-degree to a first-degree offense, carrying with it harsher penalties.
III. Factors Leading to Aggravated Charges:
Here are some of the key factors that can lead to aggravated sexual assault charges in New Jersey:
1. Use of Force or Coercion
If the perpetrator uses force or coercion to engage in sexual activity, it can elevate a sexual assault charge to an aggravated level. The use of force can be either physical or psychological.
2. The Age of the Victim
In New Jersey, if the victim is less than 13 years old, the sexual assault automatically becomes an aggravated offense. The same applies if the victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the perpetrator is related to the victim or has supervisory authority over them.
3. Relationship with the Victim
An aggravated charge may arise if the perpetrator is a parent, guardian, or otherwise in a position of authority or trust over the victim.
4. Multiple Perpetrators
The involvement of multiple perpetrators can also escalate a sexual assault case to an aggravated level, according to New Jersey laws.
5. Use of Weapons
The use or brandishing of a weapon during the commission of the sexual assault will likely elevate the charge to aggravated sexual assault.
6. Severity of Injury
If the sexual assault leads to severe injury to the victim, including but not limited to, physical disfigurement or the risk of death, the charge will likely be considered aggravated.
IV. Legal Consequences in New Jersey:
Aggravated sexual assault in New Jersey is a first-degree crime that can lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Additionally, the convicted individual may be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
V. Possible Defenses:
In light of the severe consequences, it is imperative to consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Possible defenses may include:
- False Accusations
- Insufficient Evidence
- Mistaken Identity
Understanding what constitutes an "aggravated" sexual assault charge is critical for anyone embroiled in such a legal matter. Given the severe penalties and life-altering consequences associated with these charges, consulting with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney, such as The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen, cannot be stressed enough.
Contact The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen Today For a Free Consultation About Your Sex Crime Defense
Facing charges of aggravated sexual assault can be a life-altering experience fraught with uncertainty and fear. You need an attorney who not only knows the law but is also committed to fighting tirelessly for your rights. That’s where Attorney Jill R. Cohen of The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen steps in.
With years of experience in New Jersey's criminal justice system, Jill R. Cohen possesses the expertise and acumen to navigate the complexities of aggravated sexual assault cases. As a former assistant prosecutor, she brings a unique perspective that enables her to anticipate prosecution strategies, thereby giving you a distinct advantage in court.
Don't leave your future up to chance. Reach out to us today for a confidential consultation. Because when the stakes are this high, you deserve an attorney who will stand by you, every step of the way.