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In the state of New Jersey, there are laws pertaining to statutory rape. It’s illegal for an adult 18 or older to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor who is under the age of 16. In general, even if the minor agrees to have sex with the adult, it’s against the law due to their inability to give consent. This is considered statutory rape.
What is Statutory Rape?
The laws surrounding statutory rape are established based on the inability for minors to legally give consent to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity. This is included in the statute, which explains the term “statutory.”
Generally speaking, the age of consent varies depending on the state, but in New Jersey, that age is 16. However, there are some variations depending on the age of the two parties. For example, if both parties are teenagers who are close in age, it may differ from sex that takes place between an adult over 18 years old and a minor who is under 16 years of age.
According to the law, in a statutory rape case, the prosecution does not have to prove that a sexual assault took place. The age factor determines whether the sexual intercourse or other sexual activity constitutes rape.
What are the Types of Statutory Rape?
Although statutory rape is generally defined as a crime that is committed when an adult engages in sexual intercourse with a minor, there are various types of this crime. They depend on the specific nature of the crime, including the ages of the perpetrator and victim and the sexual conduct that took place. The types of statutory rape crimes include the following:
• Aggravated sexual assault: Aggravated sexual assault in a statutory rape case involves vaginal, oral or anal penetration with a body part or object against a minor younger than 13. In this type of statutory rape case, the defendant can be any age.
• Sexual assault: Statutory rape involving sexual assault is a crime that involves sexual touching when the victim is a minor younger than 13 years old and a perpetrator at least four years older. It can even involve touching over clothing or penetration between the parties when the minor who is anywhere from 13 to 15 years old and the perpetrator is at least four years older.
• Criminal sexual contact: Criminal sexual contact in a statutory rape case involves sexual contact between a victim anywhere from 13 to 15 years old and a perpetrator who is at least four years older.
Potential Penalties for Statutory Rape
There are certain penalties a person can face if they are convicted of one of the statutory rape offenses in New Jersey. They include the following:
• Aggravated sexual assault: A conviction for this type of statutory rape crime is charged as a first degree felony and includes a minimum prison term of 15 years and possibly, a life sentence. A maximum fine of $200,000 may also be given. In some cases, the individual may get both penalties.
• Sexual assault: If a person is convicted of this statutory rape crime, they are charged with a second degree felony and can receive between five and 10 years in prison or a fine of a maximum of $150,000 or both.
• Criminal sexual conduct: This type of statutory rape conviction can result in up to 18 months in prison or a maximum fine of $10,000 or both. It’s charged as a felony in the fourth degree.
Defenses for Statutory Rape
In general, there are two main defenses that the criminal defense attorney may argue in court during a statutory rape case. One is that the alleged sexual conduct never took place. The other is to state that someone else, not the defendant, actually committed the crime.
It’s also important to note that in order to find a defendant guilty of statutory rape in New Jersey, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they indeed committed the crime.
If you are in New Jersey and have been arrested and charged with statutory rape, it’s a very serious situation. You must retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in the area of statutory rape cases. It’s your best chance at having the charges reduced or even dropped altogether.
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