New Jersey Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
Sex crimes are some of the most serious that get reported in the media. Anyone convicted of a sex crime faces severe penalties, including a loss of reputation. Even an accusation carries many negative repercussions. Those accused of sex crimes are often presumed guilty—especially when the victim is a minor. If you are charged with rape or a similar offense, contact a New Jersey sex crimes defense attorney immediately for a case evaluation.Sex Crimes Defense in New Jersey
Sex crime cases may result in serious penalties, necessitating the help of a sex crime criminal defense lawyer. If you’ve been charged with a sex offense or face accusations of multiple sex offenses, our criminal defense attorneys can help.
Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates is committed to representing those accused of sex crimes. Our law firm has tackled some of the most challenging cases in New Jersey. We understand how a conviction can impact your life, so we strive to provide the best reputation possible. Sex crimes are different than other offenses in New Jersey, and you need an attorney who understands the differences. Get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates by calling (732) 784-2880 or contact us online.Sex Crimes Information Center
- J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a) Aggravated Sexual Assault
- J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b)-(c) Rape
- J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b) Criminal Sexual Contact
- J.S.A. 2C:34-1 Prostitution
- J.S.A. 2C:13-6 & 2C:13-7 Luring Or Enticing
- J.S.A. 2C:24-4a Endangering The Welfare Of A Child
- J.S.A. 2C:24-4b Creating Or Possessing Child Pornography
- J.S.A. 2C:14-4 Lewdness
- J.S.A. 2C:14-9 Invasion Of Privacy
- Frequently Asked Questions About Sex Crimes
- Experienced New Jersey Sex Crimes Lawyer
This is the most severe sex crime you can be charged with. It carries the most severe penalties.Defining Aggravated Sexual Assault
You can be charged with aggravated sexual assault in certain situations:
- You sexually penetrated someone under the age of 13
- You sexually penetrated someone between 13 and 16 if you had disciplinary power over the victim or a familial relationship
- You penetrated someone during the commission of another crime
- You injured the victim with force during the assault
- You threatened injury with the use of a deadly weapon
Here are some examples of aggravated sexual assault:
- Penetrating someone under 14
- Penetrating one of your students who is between 13 and 16, or a niece or nephew in that age range
- You committed a carjacking or burglary and, in the process, raped someone
- You ended up breaking the ribs of your victim during a sexual assault
- You threatened to shoot a victim with a gun you brandished while committing sexual assault
Aggravated sexual assault carries the most severe penalties in New Jersey. It is a first-degree crime with a maximum life sentence and a $200,000 maximum fine. You will also need to register as a sex offender.
In New Jersey, rape is also called second-degree sexual assault. It involves:
- Penetrating the victim using coercion or force
- Penetrating a physically or mentally incapacitated victim
- Penetrating someone who is under the defendant’s supervision or control
Sexual penetration under NJSA 2C:14-1(c) is defined as:
- Vaginal intercourse
- Anal intercourse
- Cunnilingus (oral sex on a woman)
- Fellatio (oral sex on a man)
- Insertion of your hand, finger, or object into the victim’s anus or vagina, regardless of depth
Rape is a second-degree crime, and defendants up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $150,000 fine.
Criminal sexual contact does not require penetration. Instead, it consists of intentionally touching intimate body parts for the purposes of sexual gratification, even through clothing. Body parts include:
- Sex organs
- Anal area
- Inner thighs
Criminal sexual contact can be charged as either a third-degree or fourth-degree offense, depending on the circumstances. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is charged as a third-degree offense and most commonly occurs when the complainant is under 13 or under 16, and a close relationship exists with the defendant (such as teacher-student).
Prostitution remains illegal in New Jersey. Even though it often involves consenting adults, the Garden State can and will prosecute you. Under the statute, prostitution is defined as sexual activity with another person for money or anything of economic value. It includes offering to have sex with someone for monetary value or accepting the offer. In short, you can face arrest for offering to sell sex or for agreeing to buy it.What Is Having “Sexual Activity”?
Sexual activity is broadly defined in the statute:
- Sexual intercourse
- Oral sex
- Anal sex
- Genital-genital touching
- Oral-anal contact
- Touching genitals, buttocks, or breasts
- Sadomasochistic activity
Prostitution can include same-sex prostitution, as well as compelling or promoting prostitution.What are the Penalties for Prostitution?
The punishment you face will depend on the details of the crime.
- First-degree offense. Promoting prostitution of a child or any ward under the defendant’s control.
- Second-degree offense. Knowingly soliciting or engaging in prostitution with a child under age 18.
- Third-degree offense. Compelling someone else to engage in prostitution or promoting the prostitution of your spouse.
- Fourth-degree offense. Most acts of promoting prostitution.
- Disorderly persons offense. Most acts of prostitution, unless this is a second offense, in which case you can face fourth-degree charges.
Even trying to entice or lure someone into sexual activity is a crime. This type of offense will make the media if you try to entice or lure a child into having sex.
N.J.S.A. 2C:13-7 makes it illegal to entice an adult to meet up to commit a criminal offense. This statute would cover setting up a meeting with someone at your home or even offering a car ride home if you intend to commit sexual assault or another crime. This is a third-degree crime, and you face mandatory time in prison if this is your second or a subsequent offense.
N.J.S.A. 2C:13-6 is the luring statute regarding minors using any means, including electronic communication. It applies if you enticed someone under 18 or reasonably believed they were that young. A police officer posing as a 14-year-old online is an example. It is a second-degree offense with mandatory imprisonment for a second or subsequent offense.
New Jersey protects children from sexual predators. Anyone who engages in sexual relations with a child is guilty of endangerment under this statute.
If you have a legal duty to care for the child, engaging in sexual conduct is a second-degree crime.
If you have no legal duty over the child, engaging in sexual conduct is a third-degree crime.
Creating or possessing child pornography is illegal and is a type of child endangerment. It includes creating in any format—print, digital, electronic—images of sexual activity involving someone under 18 and distributing or even possessing these images.
The rise of the internet has led to an explosion of child pornography. With the click of a mouse, people can send or download thousands of images and store them on their computers.Creating or Distributing Child Pornography
The crime will depend on the circumstances:
- Causing or permitting a child to engage in any prohibited sexual act, simulation, or reproduction is a first-degree crime.
- Filming or photographing a prohibited sexual act or simulation or using a device to reproduce an image is a second-degree crime.
- Distributing or intending to distribute child porn can be a first-degree crime if more than 1,000 images are involved; otherwise, a second-degree crime.
If you are caught with child porn, you can be convicted for simply possessing it and viewing it. The state believes that people who consume images create a market for child pornography, furthering children’s exploitation. For that reason, the state will seek to prosecute you even if you never exploited or touched a child.
Punishment will depend on the number of images you have:
- First-degree crime: knowingly possessing or viewing 100,000 or more items.
- Second-degree crime: knowingly possessing or viewing at least 1,000 images but fewer than 100,000.
- Third-degree crime: knowingly possessing or viewing fewer than 1,000 images.
You can face charges under this statute for conspiring or facilitating child pornography. You can be arrested for organizing, recruiting participants, or maintaining a computer network to share files.
If 100,000 or more items are involved, you face first-degree charges. If fewer than 100,000 but at least 1,000 items are involved, you face second-degree charges.
New Jersey also criminalizes any “lewd” and “flagrant” act if you believe someone is watching you. A lewd act can include exposing your genitals for sexual gratification. This is a disorderly persons offense, which has a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Lewdness can also be a fourth-degree crime if you expose your genitals to a 13-year-old or a mentally disabled person. A fourth-degree crime in New Jersey can get a defendant up to 18 months in jail and a fine.
Some sex crimes involve invading a person’s privacy and recording or observing them. This New Jersey law makes the following a crime:
- Observing someone expose intimate parts or having sex. This is a fourth-degree offense.
- Photographing or recording someone in their undergarments. This is a fourth-degree offense.
- Recording someone’s exposed intimate parts or recording them having sexual contact. This is a third-degree offense.
In effect, being a “peeping Tom” is illegal in New Jersey, and defendants could face time in jail as well as other criminal penalties.Frequently Asked Questions About Sex Crimes
The popularity of the web means that more sex crimes are happening online. As mentioned above, the distribution of pornography, in particular child pornography, now happens primarily online. Almost any sex crime could have an internet component.
Some common internet sex crimes include:
- Solicitation of prostitution
- Luring or enticing a minor
- Producing or distributing child pornography
- Falsifying information in the commission of a sex crime
No one statute covers all internet sex crimes. You will need a lawyer with broad experience in this field to represent you. Your lawyer should also understand technology and its limits. The fact that someone used your phone or computer does not mean you are guilty of the offense or even using the computer.
Probably. New Jersey typically requires registration of anyone convicted of a sex crime. New Jersey divides registrants into three tiers.
These offenders are the least likely to commit another sex crime. Typically, their crimes are non-violent and involve adult victims. Generally, only law enforcement receives the notification of your crime, and you are not included in the public registry.
These offenders are at moderate risk of committing another sex crime. Typically, they committed non-violent offenses against minors. If in Tier 2, you typically must notify law enforcement and other community organizations and licensed daycare centers. You might also be in the internet registry.
This group is the most likely to re-offend and consists of those who committed violent offenses against children or adults. If you have multiple Tier 1 or Tier 2 convictions, you will now be in Tier 3. A convicted sex offender in Tier 3 appears in the internet registry, which is searchable by the public.
A sex crime defense attorney can help keep you off the sex offender registration list.
Yes. Many people want out of Tier 3 because anyone in the public can search the internet registry and find out you are a sex offender. However, challenging the classification is not easy. As a seasoned New Jersey sex crimes attorney, we can make a compelling argument on your behalf.
A good defense lawyer always closely analyzes the evidence to determine what type of defense to raise on their client’s behalf. Some of the more common reasons to fight a charge include:
- Mistaken identity. Someone attacked the alleged victim, but it was not you. The risk of a mistaken identity increases when the attack occurred at night, or the victim was drunk or high at the time. Sometimes police try to get a positive ID by using an unduly suggestive lineup or photo array.
- Lack of knowledge or intent. Some sex crimes require that act with certain knowledge. For example, lewdness requires that you know another person is watching you. You might have had no idea someone can see you when you change your clothes or step out of the shower.
- Insufficient evidence. There might not be sufficient evidence a sex crime occurred. For example, a prosecutor might allege you enticed a child to meet you in your car outside a school. The fact that you are sitting in a vehicle is not proof that you enticed anyone. It also isn’t proof you intended to commit a crime against the child in the car.
Please contact a New Jersey sex crimes defense attorney right away. The sooner we can begin collecting evidence, the better our odds of success.
It depends on the crime. Consent is often a defense to sexual assault charges involving two adults. Consent often explains why a defendant’s semen is on the complainant’s clothing or body.
Consent is not a valid defense to every sex crime, however. Some activity is illegal even if all parties consent, like prostitution, for example. Nobody can consent to prostitution, so raising it as a defense makes little sense.
Also, the age of consent in New Jersey is 16, so someone younger cannot “consent.” It doesn’t matter how eager they were to enter a sexual relationship. The law will not allow consent as a defense when a victim is too young.
Yes. Prosecutors often assume that any bruising is automatically proof that force was used. In reality, some people consent to “rough” sex. At Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates, we approach each case with an open mind. We don’t assume our clients are guilty. Instead, we ask, “What is this evidence telling us?” Often, there are two perfectly logical explanations to any evidence, which might create reasonable doubt in a jury’s mind. Bruising on the wrist or neck could prove that the parties agreed to aggressive sexual intercourse.
Possibly. Entrapment is an affirmative defense in New Jersey, but it’s hard to bring. You can raise entrapment as a defense if the police induced you to commit a crime you otherwise wouldn’t have. That’s a high bar.
There are many misconceptions about entrapment. A police “sting” wouldn’t be entrapment if all it did was allow you to commit a crime. For example, some officers might pose as prostitutes and hang out on street corners. It isn’t entrapment if you go up and offer to pay for sex.
Likewise, it isn’t entrapment for police to pose as teenagers online. If you flirt and then schedule a meeting time, the police haven’t induced you to do anything. Instead, you were given the opportunity.
Nevertheless, we can sometimes bring an entrapment defense. Undercover police might use lengthy persuasion to convince you to break the law.
Yes, if the facts support it. Forensic tests are often used in rape cases where the victim doesn’t know the perpetrator. The police might have a hair sample, or they could find semen on the victim’s clothes or body. The police might extract DNA to identify the rapist.
Of course, forensic testing is only as good as the collection efforts. Forensic teams might be sloppy, or the chain of custody might have issues regarding security.
We also need to point out that sometimes there is a valid reason why your DNA or hair is at a location. For example, you might personally know the victim. You might even have dated. The fact that your DNA was found at the crime scene doesn’t make you a criminal.
Yes. We will argue that you should be released on your recognizance, meaning you don’t need to post cash or a bond. An attorney can often make a much better argument for bail than if you try to argue on your own behalf. Attorney Breslow-Testa understands the bail process and always strives to protect her client’s freedom.
This is a possible defense. Prosecutors often act as if they have airtight proof that you were the one accessing these images. However, someone else might have had access to your computer or phone:
- Your spouse
- Your children
- Household help
- Secretary or administrative assistant
Often, prosecutors simply find images on a device you own. They then assume you were the one who downloaded them.
You should quickly contact an attorney. If you try to destroy evidence or even start viewing the images yourself, you could be committing a crime. The safest step is to call us today to discuss your situation.
Possibly. The media often picks up sex crime stories. One false allegation can ruin a person. For this reason, we work with our clients to minimize negative publicity.
Not all allegations are made public. But if you are a prominent community member or the victim was a child, the odds are higher that the media will run with the story and publicize your identity. They don’t even wait for a conviction.
Yes. Many teens are on apps like Grindr looking for sexual partners and saying they are of legal age. They might even fake a license or use someone else’s. You were super careful, but it turns out she’s under 16. What now?
Unfortunately, the “mistake of age” defense is invalid in New Jersey. We strongly encourage you to reach out to a New Jersey sex crimes attorney to review your situation.
Yes. However, New Jersey has “close in age” exceptions which sometimes come into play when both partners are young. Here are the rules:
- No one under age 13 can consent, regardless of the age of their partner.
- If a child is between 13 and 16, they can legally consent to have sex with someone who is not more than four years older. This means a 13-year-old could engage in consensual sexual activity with someone up to age 17. They can’t consent to have sex with someone 18 or older.
- A child aged 16 or older can consent to sex with an older partner. But they can’t if the partner has disciplinary or supervisory authority over them. This means a 17-year-old senior can’t sleep with their teacher or coach.
Prosecutors might hesitate to bring charges when both participants are very young. After all, young children often don’t know what they are doing. They might mimic something they see on TV and not realize it is a crime. We recommend reaching out to a New Jersey sex crimes defense attorney immediately.
Yes. The penalties are so serious that relying on an overworked public defender is risky. Consider all the penalties. Not only is jail a real possibility, but you might need to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Even if you don’t register, you’ll need to disclose your conviction in the future. Many people have lost jobs or apartments because of sex crime convictions.
More than half of all criminal cases in New Jersey are resolved outside of court. Sometimes we can convince a prosecutor to drop charges. This sometimes happens if a judge suppresses the introduction of certain evidence, like computer files. The police might have seized them illegally, so the judge keeps them out. In other situations, the prosecutor just doesn’t have solid evidence of our client’s guilt.
A favorable plea deal might be the best resolution for other clients. You might avoid registering as a Tier 3 offender if charges are reduced. You might also avoid jail time.
Yes. Trials are very high stakes, and Attorney Breslow-Testa feels very at home in a courtroom. All of our preparation pays off if we end up in front of a jury arguing for your innocence. Our extensive preparation includes:
- Reviewing all evidence for weaknesses or inconsistencies
- Investigating the alleged victim’s background and history of bringing false charges
- Tracking down alibi witnesses who can place you somewhere other than at the crime scene
- Selecting a jury that won’t automatically assume you are guilty
- Analyzing forensic evidence and collection methods
- Building up your credibility by talking to friends, family, and former partners
Sex crime trials are not easy cases. But sometimes, they are the only way to secure your freedom.
It’s never too early to meet with an attorney for a consultation. Maybe you hear whispers that someone is accusing you of inappropriate conduct. Perhaps a university or employer has begun questioning you about a relationship with a student or coworker. Often, these are red flags that an investigation is taking place.
Schedule a consultation with a New Jersey sex crimes lawyer. Meeting with an attorney is not an admission of guilt. We won’t disclose the substance of the conversation to the police. You can determine what to expect in an investigation and what steps to take to protect your liberty.
No. However, the victim’s actions are often very relevant when determining what happened. Most sex crimes happen far away from other people. No one was there but you and the person claiming to be a victim. We don’t automatically believe accusations. They are just that—accusations.
For example, someone might accuse you of rape. However, she continues to send you text messages of a flirtatious nature. She might even try to schedule meetings with you and hound you into calling or texting her back. This is not the behavior of someone who has just been attacked.
New Jersey law strictly limits our ability to introduce evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual history. Nevertheless, their actions are often helpful in assessing credibility. And prosecutors sometimes drop charges because they no longer think a victim is credible.
Reliable statistics are hard to come by. But as experienced lawyers, we have seen many false allegations.
For example, child molestation charges often surface in divorce child custody proceedings. One parent hopes to get an advantage by accusing the other of molestation. Your divorce lawyer might not be able to defend you appropriately—but we can.
In one sense, it doesn’t matter how common false allegations are. You are presumed innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is sometimes possible for sex crimes. A Pretrial Intervention Program or PTI is possible for first-time offenders who can undergo a supervisory period of one to three years. In the end, charges are dismissed. PTI is a terrific option for those without a history of indictable offenses. Other conditions include counseling and mandatory meetings with a parole officer.
Probably not. We have better luck getting a dismissal expunged. But sex crime convictions will likely stay on your record. For example, you can’t remove convictions for:
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact with a minor
- Producing or distributing child pornography
This is all the more reason to fight sex crime charges in the first place aggressively.
Charged with sexual abuse or another sex crime in New Jersey? If so, contact Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates online or call (732) 784-2880 today to speak with a New Jersey sex crimes lawyer about your case. We’ll help you identify your options and possible defenses to the charges. Our consultations are entirely confidential. Importantly, experienced criminal defense attorney Tara Breslow-Testa attends to each case from start to end, meeting her clients’ unique needs and helping to ensure the best possible outcome for her clients.