Aggravated Sexual Assault, 1st Degree
Aggravated sexual is the most serious sex crime in New Jersey. The different types of aggravated sexual assault — involving sexual penetration — include:
- The victim is under 13 years old.
- The victim is 13 – 16 years old and the defendant was in a familial relationship with the victim, the defendant had supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim or the defendant was a parent/guardian of the victim.
- The assault occurred during the commission of another crime such as a robbery, kidnapping, murder or arson.
- The defendant was armed and threatened to use the weapon to achieve sexual advantage.
- The defendant was aided or assisted by one or more other persons in the assault.
- The defendant used physical force or coercion and the victim suffered severe personal injury.
- The defendant knew, or should have known, that the victim was physically helpless — asleep, unconscious, unable to flee or unable to communicate unwillingness — mentally incapacitated or mentally defective.
Sexual Assault, 2nd Degree (Rape)
In New Jersey, sexual assault is the legal term for rape. Sexual assault in NJ is defined as “penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated.”
The different types of sexual assault — involving sexual penetration — include:
- The victim is younger than 13 years old and the defendant is older than 17 years old.
- The defendant used physical force, but the victim was not injured.
- The victim was under the control of the defendant (e.g., prison guard, parole officer, etc.).
- The victim is 16 – 18 years old and the defendant has control over them.
- The victim is 13 – 16 years old and the defendant is older by four years or more.
All rape kit evidence is preserved and maintained for at least five years.
According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, all rape kits submitted in criminal investigations are tested as soon as they are sent to the State Police lab in Hamilton.
Endangering the Welfare of Children, 2nd or 3rd Degree
In New Jersey a child is any person under the age of 18. Endangering the Welfare of Children, 2nd Degree, occurs when a child’s legal guardian or caretaker engages in sexual contact with that child “which would cause the child harm, impair the child’s morals, or cause harm in such a way that the child could be defined as an abused or neglected child.” Endangering the Welfare of Children, 3rd Degree, is the same as the second degree charge, except the child is younger than 16.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child can include:
- Child abuse
- Child neglect
- Child pornography
- Child molestation
- Sexual assault
- Statutory rape
- Driving while intoxicated while a minor is in the vehicle
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact, 3rd Degree
In New Jersey, the charge of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact indicates the defendant intentionally touched the intimate parts of a victim or themselves for the sexual degradation or humiliation of the victim or the sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant in any of the following circumstances:
- The defendant is a parent/guardian of the victim
- The defendant is related to the victim
- The defendant has disciplinary/supervisory power over the victim
Criminal Sexual Contact, 4th Degree
In New Jersey, a defendant is charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact if they intentionally touched the victim or themselves for their own sexual arousal or the sexual humiliation of the victim.
Lewdness, 4th Degree or Disorderly Persons
In New Jersey, a defendant is guilty of Lewdness if they commit a flagrantly offensive act that they believe non-consenting people will likely see.
Lewdness is typically a disorderly persons charge in New Jersey, but it becomes a fourth degree crime when the defendant knows or reasonably expects to be observed by a child younger than 13 years old, if the defendant is at least four years older than the child or if they are observed by a person who is unable to understand the sexual nature of the defendant’s conduct due to mental illness or disease.
Harassment, Petty Disorderly Persons Offense
Harassment is a petty disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. A defendant is charged with harassment if they purposefully:
- Communicate anonymously, at extremely inconvenient hours, in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause irritation or alarm
- Threaten or subject the victim to hitting, kicking, shoving or other offensive contact/touching
- Engage in any sort of alarming conduct or repeatedly commit acts to purposefully alarm or seriously annoy the victim
If the defendant commits harassment while in prison, on probation or on parole for an indictable offense, they can be charged in the fourth degree.
Internet Sex Crimes
Internet sex crimes typically do not involve direct contact with another person but cover a range of inappropriate behavior using the internet, including:
- Possession and/or distribution of child pornography
- Sex crimes involving social media
- Internet solicitation of a minor (even if the plan is not carried out)
- Sending explicit photos to a minor
- Requesting explicit photos from a minor
- Federal and state crimes involving computers
Child pornography in New Jersey is defined as “the visual depiction of a person under the age of 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” If images are distributed or downloaded across state lines — downloading images in New Jersey from a server in California, for example — the case will be prosecuted under federal law.
Is incest is legal in New Jersey? Yes, incest, as defined by New Jersey incest laws as consensual sexual relationships among adult relatives, is not a criminal offense. Incestuous marriages, however, are illegal. Also, New Jersey increases the severity of underage sex offenses if they are also incestuous.
In New Jersey, the legal age a person can consent to participate in sexual activity is 16 years old. The statutory rape laws in NJ are violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual aged 15 or younger. There is a close-in-age exemption allowing minors ages 13 – 15 to have sex with a partner up to 4 years older.