Statutory Rape Charges: It’s Not Just Age that Matters
In terms of legal language, it might shock you. New Jersey’s laws regarding sexual violence say nothing about statutory rape. Truth be told, the word rape itself is also absent. If you’re facing indictment for either offense, it’s something that might immediately catch your attention.
Of course, that’s not to say that New Jersey law fails to recognize statutory rape as a crime. Historically, the term rape refers back to the days of common law in England. In New Jersey, NJSA 2C:14-2 outlines conditions that constitute sexual assault.
In the meantime, you may recognize statutory rape as it relates to adults participating in sexual acts with someone too young to give legal consent. Statutory rape does not mean that you forced the alleged victim or put them in fear for their life. However, according to the statutes, consensual sex requires some level of maturity.
According to New Jersey law, you could face criminal charges for aggravated sexual assault if you committed acts of sexual penetration with someone not old enough to give consent. Notably, the statutes don’t limit the definition of sexual penetration to vaginal intercourse. Instead, it includes the following:
- Cunnilingus – Oral stimulation of the female genitalia
- Fellatio – Oral sex involving a man’s penis
- Anal intercourse between persons
- Insertion of the hand, finger or object into the anus or vagina
You might be under the misimpression that anyone over the age of 16 can provide legal consent in New Jersey. However, you should know that it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Statutory Rape and Consent Laws
There really is no legal definition of statutory rape within the New Jersey statutes. Instead, it boils down to the situations that prevent the alleged victim from legally giving consent. Although the age of consent is 16, there are exceptions.
For example, take the 17-year-old acting as a student intern at a local radio station. Her supervisor graduated college just a few years ago, and the two spend a great deal of time together. Ultimately, the late evenings of overtime turn into sexual encounters in a back office.
Although the student is over 16, her supervisor could face charges for sexual assault because he is of age and has supervisory power. It doesn’t matter if the two stopped at heavy petting.
Meanwhile, it could be worse. If the alleged victim was weeks away from her 16th birthday, the charges become aggravated sexual assault.
Consent can be questionable in other circumstances as well. These include cases where the accused knew or should have known the alleged victim was:
- Physically helpless or incapacitated
- Intellectually or mentally incapacitated
- Suffered from a mental disease or defect that made him or her incapable of giving consent
A New Jersey attorney with experience representing those accused of sexual offenses can advise you further on the nuances of the law. In the meantime, your defense may include a variety of factors.
Defense Against Charges Involving Consent
You might have every reason to believe that the alleged victim was old enough to consent to sexual penetration. However, the New Jersey courts do not consider your mistake of age as a legal defense. In fact, this is true even when victims represent themselves as older.
As with other types of sexual assault cases, you may be able to provide evidence that you did not have sex with the victim.
Some professionals face additional accusations of statutory rape because of the nature of their job. These include teachers, coaches and camp counselors. The age of consent extends beyond 16 when the adult is in a supervisory or disciplinary position.
A conviction for statutory rape or sexual assault can be life-changing. If you find yourself facing these types of charges, you need an experienced legal defense. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone to learn how we can assist you.