The New Jersey statute that defines sexual assault is N.J.S. 2C:14-2. Sexual assault, formerly called “rape” or “carnal knowledge,” broadly speaking, consists of sexual activity with a non-consenting individual or, depending on circumstances, even sexual activity with individuals who do consent.
N.J.S. 2C:14-2 has many subsections. Each subsection specifies a different set of activities that can constitute sexual assault. The sexual activity specified in those subsections can be either sexual penetration or sexual contact, again depending on the circumstances. It does not include such offenses as invasion of privacy, lewdness, or prostitution. We discuss those offenses elsewhere on this site.
N.J.S. 2C:14-1 contains definitions that are applied to charges involving sexual conduct. Terms defined include “sexual penetration” and “sexual contact.” Another word defined there is “victim.” Under that definition, “victim” means a person alleged to have been subjected to any of the specified offenses. This terminology thus labels a person complaining of sexual assault a “victim” before a shred of evidence has been produced that a sexual assault even occurred. The courts often allow prosecutors to refer to the most shameless liars as “victims” even when the accused individual categorically denies misconduct. Good criminal trial lawyers know how to handle that.
New Jersey specifies that sexual assault is either a second degree crime or a first degree crime. The difference depends on whether aggravating factors are present. When aggravating factors elevate the offense to a first degree crime, the offense is called aggravated sexual assault.
New Jersey now defines sex offenses in ways that differ from how those offenses were defined historically. Here are some examples:
- Historically, the law did not recognize that a sexual assault could occur when the victim and the accused were married. Now marriage is no longer a defense to a charge of sexual assault;
- Historically, depending on the marital status of the parties, sexual activity could violate laws relating to fornication and adultery. New Jersey has eliminated all such laws;
- New Jersey has repealed all laws proscribing anal and oral intercourse, variously described historically as sodomy, or “the infamous crime against nature.” Note however that under N.J.S. 2C:22-1a(3), it remains a second degree crime to commit an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact upon human remains. For persons considering taking it to the next level, the New Jersey Criminal Code never mentions “beastiality.” N.J.S. 4:22-17, however, makes it unlawful to abuse or torment a living animal. The statute says nothing about dead animals. By way of definitions, N.J.S. 4:22-15 tells us that “animal” includes “the whole brute creation.” Sexual Assault Lawyers in New Jersey are unaware of any court decisions that tell us whether a hamster qualifies as a member of “the whole brute creation.” And you can still be prosecuted for commiting “the infamous crimes against nature” if you happen to be in Louisiana, Saudi Arabia, and probably other places, too.
- “Traditional” sexual assault required vaginal penetration. Now any orifice will do;
- New Jersey laws that define sexual assault are totally gender-neutral. Thus the twenty-four year old female teacher who has sexual relations with her fifteen year old male student has committed aggravated sexual assault. Note that the consent (or enthusiasm) of the student here is deemed to be totally irrelevant because, as the offenses are defined, the underage student is deemed to be legally incapable of consenting.
New Jersey sexual assault lawyer Allan Marain has been handling sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault matters, literally, for decades. He has extensive experience finding weaknesses in the State's case and exploiting those weaknesses. He has won sexual assault not guilty verdicts in bitterly contested jury trials against some of the best prosecutors in New Jersey.
Persons in New Jersey charged with sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault should call him before answering questions from the police, or from anybody. He can help.