The Facts of Sexual Assault in New Jersey
With the recent confirmation hearing for the new U.S. Supreme Court Justice to the conviction of Billy Cosby to the ongoing #MeToo movement, sexual assault has become a hot-button issue in this country. Women from coast to coast have been bravely coming forward to tell their stories and to support the victims of this heinous crime.
But did you know that every state has a different definition of sexual assault? And can you file a civil suit as well as pursue criminal charges in New Jersey?
Sexual Assault in New Jersey: A Definition
According to NJSA 2C:14-2, sexual assault in New Jersey is defined as “the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated.” It can happen to anyone, no matter what their gender, age, education level, race, or ethnic background is.
The state recognizes the following circumstances as sexual assault:
- The victim is less than 13 years old
- The victim is 13 but less than 16 years old, and the perpetrator is at least four years older than the victim
- The victim is between 16 and 18 years old, and the perpetrator is either a relative or has disciplinary power over the victim
- The act is committed during the commission of a robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, or criminal escape
- The perpetrator has a weapon or threatens physical harm to the victim
- The perpetrator is aided or abetted by one or more people and uses physical force or coercion
- The perpetrator uses force or coercion and severely injures the victim
- The victim is someone the perpetrator knows is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or has a mental disease and is unable to provide consent
Under the law, consent is when the party can freely give permission without being coerced and has the physical and mental capability to do so.
Sexual Assault as a Crime
In New Jersey, sexual assault is a second-degree crime and carries a punishment of five to 10 years in prison. However, if the victim was injured, the offense is then classified as aggravated sexual assault – a first-degree crime that carries a penalty of 10 to 20 years in prison. In addition to a prison sentence, those found guilty of sexual assault will have his/her parental rights limited or terminated and his/her name will go on the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry.
There is no time limit for sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault claims in New Jersey. So if the crime took place years ago, you still have the chance to come forward and press charges.
Sexual Assault as a Civil Lawsuit
In addition to pressing criminal charges, if the victim receives an injury in the assault, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against the attacker. Remember that in a criminal matter, there must be a preponderance of evidence to prove sexual assault had occurred. But that’s not the case in a civil suit. For more information on sexual assault lawsuits, click here.
We’re Here to Help
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we’ve handled sensitive cases such as domestic abuse and sexual assault for nearly 30 years. We know how difficult it is to come forward with your story and we will do everything in our power to get you the justice you deserve.
If you were sexually assaulted and wanted to learn your legal rights, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.