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An accusation that you molested a child has the potential to turn your life upside down. Whether the underlying offense is luring, endangering the welfare of a child, sexual assault or criminal sexual contact, a conviction carries sex offender registration under Megan’s Law and the possibility of years in prison. To make matters worse, charges of this nature are overwhelmingly based on allegations alone without any physical evidence or other corroboration, making it extremely difficult to resolve these types of cases without a jury making a determination as to who is telling the truth. This is why it is so imperative that you not only hire a skilled New Jersey criminal attorney but also one that has tried many child molestation cases. You have no idea how much on the internet is literally hogwash with a lawyer laying the sales pitch out to create the illusion that they are an expert in defending sex crimes but, in actuality, they have literally zero or extraordinary limited trial experience in this area of law. Know what you are getting before you swipe your credit card or write a check because the life of you or your loved one is on the line. You cannot afford to hire someone who is inexperienced when it comes to trying a child molestation case.
We are the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall and we can deliver on our representations. Our team of accomplished criminal lawyers is unquestionably unique with:
- Over two hundred (200) years of combined experience defending child molestation charges throughout New Jersey
- 12 attorneys whose practices are dedicated 100% to criminal defense
- Five lawyers who possess at least twenty five (25) years of experience
- Former County Prosecutors that have served at the highest levels including as Director of Major Crimes, Various Task Forces, Juvenile Unit, Special Operations and even an entire Trial Division
- Certified criminal trial attorneys on staff
- A history of success that spans decades
- Countless sex crimes trials to verdict
Our defense lawyers possess the attributes needed to help you avoid a conviction and are ready to discuss the specifics of your sex case anytime 24/7 in a free initial consultation. To speak to an attorney who the knowledge and skill to fully protect you against an unfavorable outcome in a child sexual abuse case, call 877-450-8301.
New Jersey Child Molestation Charges
There are basically five (5) criminal offenses that can fall under the heading of child molestation or sexual abuse: (1) first degree aggravated sexual assault; (2) second degree sexual assault; (3) endangering the welfare of a child; (4) luring; and (5) aggravated criminal sexual contact. Each offense has different elements of proof, penalties and other unique characteristics. The headings below explore each variety in more detail.
First Degree Aggravated Sexual Assault Offense
The most severe charge an individual can face in New Jersey for child molestation is aggravated sexual assault. This offense is set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a and is a first degree crime. An individual is guilty of aggravated sexual assault if they engage in sexual penetration under the following circumstances:
- With a child under 13 years old;
- With a child who is at least 13 but less than 16 who is related to the actor, being supervised or disciplined by the actor (e.g. teacher, coach, etc.) or over whom the actor serves as guardian or similar capacity;
- While committing or attempting to commit a robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault on another, burglary, arson or criminal escape;
- Used force or coercion and caused severe personal injury to the victim;
- The actor was armed or appeared to have a potentially deadly weapon;
- Was aided by at least one other individual and caused severe; or
- The victim was physically helpless or incapacitated, intellectually or mentally incapacitated, or had a mental disease or defect which rendered the victim temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding the nature of his conduct.
A conviction for aggravated sexual assault results in 10-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000. In addition, the No Early Release Act (“NERA”) requires that a defendant serve 85% of any sentence imposed.
Special Plea & Sentencing Where The Victim Is Under 13 Years Old. New Jersey has restrictions on plea bargaining and sentencing where the victim of an aggravated assault is under 13. In this regard, there is a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years to life, with no possibility of parole until 25 years have been served, if someone is convicted for sexually assaulting a child under 13. In addition, the state is prohibited from offering any less than 15 years in prison to resolve this type of case via plea bargain. These restrictions were adopted in 2014 under the Lunsford Act. Both Megan’s Law and Parole Supervision for Life (“PSL”) are also triggered upon conviction for aggravated sexual assault of a minor.
Second Degree Sexual Assault Offense
An individual may also be charged with a second degree crime for child molestation for committing a sexual assault. A sexual assault occurs in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b if the actor has sexual contact with someone who is under 13 years old and the actor is at least four years older than the victim. A sexual assault also occurs if there is sexual penetration under the following circumstances:
- The actor uses physical force or coercion, but the victim does not sustain severe personal injury;
- The victim is on probation or parole, or is detained in a hospital, prison or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim by virtue of the actor’s legal, professional or occupational status;
- The victim is at least 16 but less than 18 years old and the actor is either related to the victim, had authority or supervision over the victim, or acts as guardian or a similar role for the victim; or
- The victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years old and the Sexual assault is a crime of the second degree.
The penalties for second degree sexual assault include 5-10 years in prison and a fine that can reach $150,000. NERA requires that 85% of any prison sentence imposed be served before the defendant is eligible for release on parole. A sexual assault conviction also results in mandatory registration under Megan’s Law and PSL.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child
Another offense that can fall under the rubric of child molestation in New Jersey is endangering the welfare of a child under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. An individual commits this offense if they are someone who “engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child”.
It is a second degree crime if the actor violates this law despite having a legal duty of care for the child or having assumed responsibility for the care of a child. It is a third degree crime when no such duty or responsibility exists.
Third degree endangering the welfare of a child based on sexual misconduct results in a fine of up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison. Second degree endangering the welfare of the child carries 5-10 years in prison and a fine that can reach $150,000. The No Early Release Act also applies to this offense so that a defendant must serve 85% of their sentence before they are eligible for parole. A conviction for either degree of endangering falls under Megan’s Law and Parole Supervision for Life.
N.J.S.A. 2C:13-6 makes it a second degree crime to attempt to lure or entice a child “into a motor vehicle, structure or isolated area, or to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.”
An attempt occurs in violation of the NJ Luring Law if the actor takes a substantial step toward commission of the offense. This occurs if they utilize the internet or any other means to prompt the child (or someone posing as a child) to meet them for a sexual encounter.
The penalties for the offense of luring a child include a fine of up to $150,000 and 5-10 years in prison. A conviction also falls within both Megan’s Law and Parole Supervision for Life.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
The least severe form of child sexual abuse or molestation is criminal sexual contact in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3a. This offense occurs if an adult has “sexual contact” with a child under the circumstances previously outlined in 2 through 7 under the heading Aggravated Sexual Assault. Please note that sexual contact falling under 1 does not result in a charge of aggravated criminal sexual contact because it is grades even higher as a sexual assault (i.e. sexual contact with someone under 13 is not aggravated criminal sexual contact but rather sexual assault).
Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime that results in 3-5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Aggravated criminal sexual contact also falls under sex offender registration in accordance with Megan’s Law.
Penalties for Molesting a Child in New Jersey
The list of penalties and collateral consequences if you are convicted is significant. Some of the more significant consequences include:
- Long Prison Terms. Most child molestation related criminal charges are at least a second degree. Some are even worse and fall within the first degree range. Either grade of offense carries many years in prison and almost always a requirement that the defendant serve at least 85% of their prison term before they are eligible for parole.
- Significant Fines. You could be required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines if you are convicted any form of child sexual abuse.
- Megan’s Law. A conviction for child sexual molestation triggers sex offender registration under Megan’s Law. Depending on the results of your tiering, your identity could be disclosed to neighbors, local schools and even posted on an internet registry.
- Parole Supervision for Life. Most cases involving a conviction for child molestation will fall under a special sentencing penalty known as Parole Supervision for Life or PSL. What this contemplates is placement of a defendant on parole for a minimum of 15 years.
- Collateral Impact. The stigma resulting from a sex crimes conviction is immeasurable. You should also know that a conviction can effect you collaterally by subjecting you to action from NJ Child Protection to limit your contact with children, even those that are your own.
Given the severity of the penalties that someone will face if their child molestation charge results in a conviction, it is acutely important to obtain representation from the very best NJ criminal defense attorney you can find.
Contact Our Talented Attorneys For Immediate Assistance Defending A Child Molestation Case
There are very few, if any, crimes that law enforcement and judges take more seriously than those involving molestation of a child. If you were arrested based on an accusation that you committed a sex offense on a minor, you cannot afford to select the wrong defense attorney to defend your case. You need someone who is not only a skilled criminal lawyer but also accomplished in trying cases of this nature. This is exactly what the team of lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is capable of providing.
We are one of the state’s largest criminal firms and, more importantly, have the trial experience that is absolutely required to effectively defend a child sexual abuse charge. You may think that this qualifications are commonplace, but this certainly is not the case in actuality as many attorneys portrayed in persuasive webpages have almost no sex crimes trials.
Lawyers on our staff are available immediately to discuss our credentials and how we can help you. Contact us anytime 24/7 at 877-450-8301.