Being arrested for sexual assault can leave you with a lot of questions in mind. You may be wondering how the criminal process works and the kind of penalties you could face. Your questions and concerns can make you feel overwhelmed. But, you can have answers to your questions if you retain a New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will assess your case and explain your legal options. They will answer whatever questions you have in mind to make you feel at ease.
What is Sexual Assault
Sexual assault in NJ refers to an act of non-consensual penetration that happens through coercion or with force. It also includes non-consensual penetration that takes place with a physical or mentally incapacitated person and a minor under 13 years old. It is a serious crime; however, the defendant’s defense depends on the age of the victim and the level of force or intimidation they use. Often, sexual assault is a second-degree crime, so when convicted, a perpetrator could be in prison for up to 10 years. But, if the victim was young and the offender used significant force, the latter can be charged with aggravated sexual assault. When convicted, the offender could face up to 20 years in prison. Plus, either offense will have the offender registered as a sex offender forever.
Fighting a Sexual Assault Charge
A sexual assault charge can have life-long consequences. You must hire an experienced lawyer to prevent a conviction. Your attorney will use defense strategies like arguing that the victim consented to intercourse, the arresting or investigating officer violated your rights, or that the evidence was faulty. The strategy to use depends on the circumstances that surround your arrest and the crime. Often, it’s best to plead guilty to a lesser offense, so you can avoid serious penalties.
If you have been arrested or charged with sexual assault, you want to do everything you can to avoid being convicted. Otherwise, you will have a permanent criminal record and spend a long time in jail. Also, a conviction can impact every aspect of your life now and in the years to come. Even after you have served your sentence, you will become a community’s branded enemy. Details about your conviction will be shared with the community, especially community programs like schools. Also, when convicted, getting a job or accessing housing will be very difficult. These consequences make it important to avoid a conviction and an attorney is your most important ally in your legal battle.