If you’re facing sex crime charges in New Jersey, the stakes are incredibly high. The consequences of a conviction can change everything and haunt your life forever. But in stressful situations like these, it’s important to remember that an arrest doesn’t automatically result in a conviction. A knowledgeable New Jersey sex crime attorney can fight fiercely for the charges against you to be reduced or even dropped.
The legal team at Keith Oliver Criminal Law can evaluate your case, develop a smart defense, and fight for the best possible outcome for you. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review with an experienced New Jersey sex crime lawyer.
Our Law Firm Defends Against All Types of Sex Crime Charges
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, we have a long track record of standing up for people who have been charged with sex crimes. Some of the common types of cases we handle include:
- Sexual assault – New Jersey defines sexual assault as engaging in penetrative sexual contact while using physical force or coercion to control the victim or involving a victim who is physically or mentally incapable of consent.
- Criminal sexual contact – Criminal sexual contact involves engaging in sexual contact with a victim through physical force or coercion, with a victim who is at least 13 but less than 16, with a victim over whom the alleged perpetrator holds supervisory or disciplinary power, or with a victim who is a relative and is at least 16 but less than 18 years old.
- Statutory rape – A statutory rape offense occurs when an adult has sexual intercourse with an underage individual. However, exemptions may apply for sexual intercourse with minors between the ages of 13 and 15 if you are within four years of the minor partner’s age.
- Child pornography – Child pornography offenses occur when someone creates, receives, possesses, views, distributes, shares, or allows a child to engage in the creation of child pornography. Sexually explicit images of children are unlawful in all circumstances and not protected under the First Amendment.
- Endangering the welfare of a child – The offense of endangering the welfare of a child occurs when someone responsible for a child’s care engages in sexual contact with the child that causes harm or impairs the child’s morals.
- Revenge porn – Revenge porn offenses occur when someone distributes nude or sexual images of someone else online without their knowledge or consent. Importantly, the motive of the person who distributes such content online is not a factor in revenge porn charges.
- Prostitution – A prostitution offense occurs when someone offers or accepts an offer to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money or anything of value.
- Indecent exposure – Indecent exposure occurs when someone exposes their genitals or commits any lewd or offensive act when they know or can reasonably expect they are likely to be seen by other non-consenting individuals who would be shocked or offended.
- Lewdness – Lewdness happens when someone exposes their genitals to arouse or sexually gratify themselves or another person.
- Failure to register as a sex offender – Failure to register as a sex offender despite the requirement to do so under New Jersey law is a criminal offense separate from the original sexual offense.
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our sex crime defense attorneys work with clients throughout Monmouth, Mercer, and Somerset counties, and throughout New Jersey. We have extensive experience in the local court systems and have the resources to take on the toughest cases.
How Our N.J. Sex Crime Attorneys Can Help You
When you choose the New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at our firm, you can trust our team to:
- Work quickly to reduce the amount of your bail or argue that you should be released on your own recognizance if you are currently in police custody
- Conduct an independent investigation to examine the prosecution’s evidence and identify additional evidence to support your case
- Fight to have questionable evidence excluded from your case
- Identify administrative or procedural errors such as illegal searches, fabricated evidence, or police profiling based on protected status
- Cross-examine the alleged victim and other witnesses called by the prosecution to question and clarify their statements
- Identify witnesses and experts who can testify on your behalf in court
- Develop a comprehensive defense strategy aimed at picking apart the prosecution’s case
- Negotiate for reduced charges or a case dismissal whenever possible
- Take your case to trial to fight for the best possible outcome
- Argue for minimum sentencing if a plea deal is in your best interests
Common Defenses to Sex Crime Charges
In most cases, criminal sexual conduct involves just two people, which means only the people involved know exactly what occurred. This means there are often plenty of opportunities for defendants to set the story straight and protect themselves.
Some common defenses our attorneys rely on in New Jersey sex crime cases include:
- Innocence – For example, if you were in a different place when the alleged sex crime occurred, we can argue you are innocent by presenting an alibi. An alibi is a claim or piece of evidence that shows you were not with the alleged victim at the time they say the crime took place.
- Consent – Because sex crimes typically occur without the victim’s consent, another tactic involves attempting to prove you actually obtained consent for the sexual activity that occurred. Proving consent is tricky, however, and some victims are legally unable to consent, making this a difficult defense to pursue.
- Awareness – In some cases, you may be able to argue that you were unaware of circumstances that would prevent the alleged victim from providing legal consent. For example, you could demonstrate that the victim misled you with regard to their age or that you honestly believe they provided affirmative consent.
- Incapacity – In rare cases, you may be able to claim you were suffering from a mental defect or were otherwise incapacitated at the time of the alleged offense.
Understanding Sex Crime Penalties in New Jersey
New Jersey takes criminal offenses of a sexual nature very seriously. The penalties for a sex crime conviction are often some of the harshest under state law.
These penalties can vary widely depending on the nature of the offense as well as the age of the victim. For instance, while a standard sexual assault offense is considered a second-degree crime subject to up to 10 years in prison, an aggravated sexual assault offense is a first-degree crime subject to up to 20 years in prison.
Similarly, an indecent exposure offense is typically classified as a disorderly persons offense. However, if someone exposes themselves to a minor or mentally incapacitated individual, they may be charged with a more severe fourth-degree crime.
Common penalties for sex crimes in New Jersey include fines, probation, restraining orders, incarceration, and the requirement to register as a sex offender. The standard penalties typically imposed for different offenses are as follows:
- Petty disorderly persons offenses – Punishable by up to $500 in fines
- Disorderly persons offenses – Punishable by up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
- Fourth-degree offenses – Punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree offenses – Punishable by three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree offenses – Punishable by five to 10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines
- First-degree offenses – Punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines
What You Need to Know About the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry
If you are convicted of or enter a guilty plea for a sex crime in New Jersey, you may be required to formally register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. Sex offenders are typically required to register when convicted of crimes such as:
- Sexual assault
- Statutory rape
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Child pornography offenses
- Luring or enticing a minor
- Criminal sexual contact with a minor
- Kidnapping a minor, if you are not a parent
- Criminal restraint of a minor, if you are not a parent
- False imprisonment of a minor, if you are not a parent
When convicted individuals register as sex offenders, they are required to report the registry to local police and may be required to notify nearby schools and other organizations. In particularly serious cases, inclusion on a sex offender registry may be a matter of public record.
If a person is required to register as a sex offender, local prosecutors will classify their registration based on the risks they pose to the community. Registrants may be separated into one of the three following “tiers:”
- Tier I – This is the “lowest” tier, which includes offenders that are designated as low-risk. A Tier I registration simply involves the notification of local law enforcement agencies.
- Tier II – Tier II registrations are for moderate-risk offenders, who are required to notify local schools, daycare centers, summer camps, and community organizations of their registration in addition to law enforcement agencies.
- Tier III – Tier III registrations are reserved for the most high-risk offenders. When people are required to register as Tier III sex offenders, they must provide their information to the public through a website in addition to notifying local law enforcement, schools, daycare centers, and other community organizations.
Regardless of the tier, sex offenders are required to provide the following information when they register:
- Legal name, physical description, and a photograph
- Residential address
- Workplace or school information
- Vehicle description and license plate number
- A brief description of the offense
If you have been required to register as a sex offender in New Jersey, but you believe you have been classified improperly, a trusted defense attorney can help you appeal the prosecutor’s decision. Under Megan’s Law, you may also be eligible for removal from the registry after 15 years if you meet certain criteria.