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New Jersey Court Records

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New Jersey Sex Offenses And Why They are Different

In New Jersey, sex offenses are different from other criminal offenses because of the common motivation behind such crimes. While some offenders commit sex offenses because they lack the right understanding of the difference between forbidden and allowed sexual acts, others engage in such acts due to special circumstances or personal social and mental conditions. Usually, convicted sex offenders are monitored and tracked at different levels depending on the severity of their crime and the rate of a possible relapse. This is to ensure public safety and control sex-related victimization. When an individual is convicted for a sex offense in a New Jersey Court, they face lengthy jail/prison time as well as other associated penalties. Such penalties can include loss of certain rights and privileges and long-term or even lifetime registration as a sex offender.

What is a New Jersey Sex Crime?

A sex crime in New Jersey is characterized by any criminal charge involving sexual activity within the state’s jurisdiction. The New Jersey Revised Statutes 2C:14 established a large number of sexual crimes against adults and children as well as their potential punishment. Common types of sex crime charges in New Jersey include:

  • Lewdness
  • Harassment
  • Sexual assault, second degree (rape)
  • Aggravated sexual assault, first degree
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Internet sex crimes
  • Incest
  • Prostitution
  • Date rape
  • Statutory rape
  • Sexual abuse
  • Human trafficking
  • Child pornography
  • Child molestation

It is important to note that most sex-related crimes in New Jersey are classified as felonies. However, some non-violent sex crimes are considered misdemeanors under state laws.

What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses in New Jersey?

Under New Jersey Revised Statute Title 2C, the different types of sex offenses, their severity, and associated punishment are explained below.

Sexual Assault (NJ Rev Stat § 2C:14–2)

In New Jersey, sexual assault is the legally acknowledged term for rape. As defined under NJ Rev Stat §2C:14–2, sexual assault is sexual penetration, no matter how slight, where physical force or coercion is used, or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. The various categories of sexual assault in the state include:

  • First-degree aggravated sexual assault (NJ Rev Stat §2C:14–2)
  • Second-degree sexual assault (NJ Rev Stat §2C:14–2)
  • Third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact (§2C:14–3)
  • Fourth-degree criminal sexual contact (§2C:14–3)
  • Statutory rape

First Degree Aggravated Sexual Assault

A defendant is guilty of aggravated sexual assault in New Jersey if the person achieves sexual penetration in the following conditions:

  • The victim is below 13 years old.
  • The victim is up to 13 but less than 16 years old; and
    • The defendant shares a familial relationship with the victim to the third degree.
    • The defendant has supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim.
    • The defendant is the parent/guardian of the victim.
  • The sexual assault took place during the commission of another violent crime such as murder, robbery, kidnapping, or arson.
  • The defendant is armed or threatened to use the weapon to accomplish sexual penetration.
  • The defendant was aided or abetted by one or more other persons to achieve the sexual advantage.
  • The defendant used coercion or physical force, during which the victim sustains a severe personal injury.
  • The defendant was aware or reasonably aware that the victim was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or mentally defective. In this context, physically helpless means that the victim was either asleep, unconscious, physically unable to flee, or unable to communicate unwillingness.

Severity: First degree indictable (felony) offense

Sentence: A person convicted of first-degree sexual assault is punishable by between 25 years and life imprisonment. The convict is eligible for parole after serving 25 years in jail/prison unless otherwise stated by law.

Second Degree Sexual Assault

Second-degree sexual assault in New Jersey is characterized by sexual penetration in the following conditions:

  • The victim is below 13 years old, and the defendant is at least 17 years old (that is at least four years older than the victim).
  • The defendant used physical force or coercion, but the victim does not sustain a severe personal injury.
  • The defendant has supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim by the defendant’s professional, legal, or occupational status. In this context, the victim is under the control of the defendant as a prison inmate, hospital ward, parolee, or probationer.
  • The victim is 16–18 years old and;
    • Shares familial relationship to the third degree with the defendant.
    • The defendant has supervisory or disciplinary control in any capacity over the victim.
    • The defendant is the parent or guardian of the victim.
  • The victim is 13–16 years old, and the defendant is older by four or more years.
  • The victim is 18–22 years old and is a high school student in a school where the defendant has disciplinary or supervisory control over the victim as a;
    • Teacher or substitute teacher (N. J. S. 18A:1–1)
    • Non-academic staff
    • School bus driver
    • Contracted service provider
    • Volunteer

Severity: First degree indictable (felony) offense

Sentence: Second-degree sexual assault in New Jersey is punishable by not less than 15 years of imprisonment with no parole chances. However, a plea agreement is possible.

Third Degree Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact

In New Jersey, an individual is charged with aggravated sexual contact if the individual intentionally touched a victim’s intimate parts for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the defendant or the humiliation or sexual degradation of the victim in any of the following circumstances:

  • The victim is between 13 and 16 years old; and
    • The defendant shares a familial relationship with the victim to the third degree
    • The defendant has supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim
    • The defendant is a parent or guardian of the victim
  • The sexual assault took place during the commission of another violent crime such as murder, robbery, kidnapping, or arson
  • The defendant is armed or threatened to use the weapon to accomplish sexual penetration.
  • The defendant was aided or abetted by one or more other persons to achieve the sexual advantage.
  • The defendant used coercion or physical force, during which the victim sustains a severe personal injury.
  • The defendant was aware or reasonably aware that the victim was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or mentally defective. Physically helpless in this context means that the victim was either asleep, unconscious, physically unable to flee, or unable to communicate unwillingness.

Severity: Second degree indictable (felony) offense

Sentencing: Fixed minimum sentence of not less than five years. Parole is not possible; however, sentencing may be executed in accordance with N. J. S. 2C:43–7.

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Contact

Criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree in New Jersey is characterized by a defendant intentionally touching a victim or themselves for their own sexual gratification or sexual humiliation of the victim in the following conditions.

  • The victim is under 13 years old, and the defendant is at least 17 years old (that is at least four years older than the victim).
  • The defendant used physical force or coercion, but the victim does not sustain severe personal injury.
  • The defendant has supervisory/disciplinary power over the victim by the defendant’s professional, legal, or occupational status. In this context, the victim is under the control of the defendant as a prison inmate, hospital ward, parolee, or probationer.
  • The victim is 16–18 years old and;
    • Shares familial relationship to the third degree with the defendant
    • The defendant has supervisory or disciplinary control in any capacity over the victim.
    • The defendant is the parent or guardian of the victim.
  • The victim is 13–16 years old, and the defendant is older by four or more years
  • The victim is 18–22 years old and is a high school student in a school where the defendant has disciplinary or supervisory control over the victim as a;
    • Teacher or substitute teacher (N. J. S. 18A:1–1)
    • Non-academic staff
    • School bus driver
    • Contracted service provider
    • Volunteer

Child Welfare Endangerment, First Degree

In the State of New Jersey, a defendant is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, first degree, if the defendant causes/allows a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act in a sexually suggestive manner. And the defendant is aware, reasonably aware, or intends to photograph, film, or reproduce the portrayal of such an act.

A defendant is also guilty of child welfare endangerment in the first degree if the defendant intentionally possesses, views, or controls 100,000 or more items showing the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child.

Severity: Second-degree indictable offense

Penalty: Ten or more years in state prison

Note that child pornography carries different penalties depending on the gravity. Also, repeat or subsequent offenders receive extended terms of imprisonment, as stated under N. J. S.2C:43–7.

Child Welfare Endangerment, Second Degree

New Jersey laws define a child as anyone below the age of 18 years. Under Section 2C:24–4, endangering the welfare of a child, second degree, occurs when the child’s caretaker or legal guardian engages in sexual contact with the child, which would:

  • Debauch or impair the child’s morals
  • Cause the child harm, which would make the child an abused or neglected child. An abused or neglected child in this context is defined in 9:6–1, 9:6–3, and Section 1 of P. L. 1974, c.119 (C. 9:6–8.21)

A defendant is also guilty of endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree if the defendant:

  • Films or photographs a child performing/simulating a prohibited sexual act in a sexually suggestive manner
  • Uses any device to reconstruct/reproduce the image of a child performing or simulating a prohibited sexual act in a sexually suggestive manner
  • Intentionally possesses, views, or controls at least 1,000 but less than 100,000 items showing the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child

In simpler terms, the following crimes are considered child welfare endangerment:

  • Child pornography
  • Statutory rape
  • Sexual assault of a minor
  • Child molestation
  • Child neglect
  • Child abuse and sexual exploitation

Severity: Second-degree Indictable Offense

Penalty: 5–10 years in state prison.

Child Welfare Endangerment, Third Degree

In New Jersey, endangering the welfare of children, third degree, occurs when any other person engages in sexual contact with the child “which would impair the morals of the child, cause the child harm, or cause harm in such a way that the child could be defined as abused or neglected” (N. J.S Section 2C:24–4)..

Endangering the welfare of a child in the third degree also occurs when a defendant intentionally possesses, views, or controls less than 1,000 items showing the sexual exploration of a child by any means.

Severity: Third-degree indictable (felony) offense

Penalty: 3–5 years in state prison

Lewdness, Fourth Degree or Disorderly Persons

Under N. J.S 2C:14–4, lewdness occurs when a person intentionally performs a fragrant and offensive act in the presence of non-consenting persons. In New Jersey, lewdness is typically a disorderly person offense (misdemeanor). However, it becomes a 4th-degree indictable crime (felony) if the defendant is aware or is reasonably aware that the lewd act would be likely observed by;

  • A child below 13 years old and the defendant is at least four years older than the child.
  • A person who has a mental illness and is unable to understand the sexual nature of the defendant’s lewd act.

Severity: In New Jersey, lewdness can be classified as a disorderly person offense or a fourth-degree indictable crime.

Penalty: Lewdness as a disorderly person offense carries up to six months in county jail as well as a fine of $1,000. If the charge is extended to a fourth-degree indictable crime, the offender may serve up to 18 months in a state correctional center with a fine running into $10,000.

No matter the severity of lewdness in New Jersey, it will not trigger the Meghan’s Law provisions requiring the offender to register as a sex offender.

Harassment, Petty Disorderly Persons Offense

In New Jersey, a person is guilty of harassment, if that person intentionally:

  • Initiates anonymous communication with another person at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner that may cause alarm or annoyance
  • Subjects or threatens to subject another person to striking, shoving, kicking, or another offensive touching
  • Engages or repeatedly engages in any other course of alarming conduct with the purpose of alarming or annoying the victim

Typically, harassment is a disorderly person offense in New Jersey. However, it may become a fourth-degree offense if the defendant commits such crime while on parole, probation, or serving a prison sentence for another indictable offense (N. J.S 2C:33–4d)

Internet Sex Crimes

In New Jersey, internet sex crimes cover a wide range of inadequate behavior perpetrated through the internet. Such crimes usually do not involve direct contact with another person and can include:

  • Sex crimes involving social media
  • Sexting
  • Distribution and/or possession of child pornography
  • Solicitation of a minor over the internet
  • Sending or requesting explicit photos from a minor
  • State and federal crimes involving computers

Incest

In New Jersey, incest is legal. Typically, incestuous relationships between consenting adult relatives are legally okay in the state. However, this becomes a crime when an adult engages in an incestuous sexual relationship with a minor under 16 years. Incest is classified as sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault in New Jersey.

Statutory Rape

The legal age of consent in New Jersey is 16 years old. Minors below the age of 16 are legally unable to consent to sexual relationships. Any adult engaging in such relationships with a minor is guilty of statutory rape.

Sex Offender Levels of Classification in New Jersey

The state of New Jersey classifies sex offenders into three tiers, depending on the severity and the offender’s risk of re-offense. These classifications determine how at-risk communities will be notified when sex offenders are released from jail/state prison. This classification was enacted pursuant to the 1994 Meghan’s Law in the state.

Tier 1 offenders have a low risk of re-offense and are not included in the state’s online sex offender registry. Tier 2 offenders are those found to pose a moderate risk or re-offense. Tier 3 sex offenders are those who pose a high risk of recidivism or re-offense.

The New Jersey Attorney General established a tool - Registrant Risk Assessment Scale - for determining benchmarks for each tier. There are 13 tools that must be assessed to determine which tier a sex offender fits. All adult and juvenile sex offenders are required to register with their local police, and this information is maintained and published by the New Jersey State Police. Below are sex crimes that trigger one’s registry as a sex offender in New Jersey.

  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual contact where the victim is a child
  • Aggravated criminal sexual contact
  • Endangering the welfare of a child through acts involving pornography featuring a child, promoting prostitution of a child
  • Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal restraint
  • Luring or enticing
  • False imprisonment if the victim is a minor and the offender is not a parent of the victim

How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in New Jersey?

By the New Jersey Code 2C:7–12 to 19, high-risk and some moderate-risk sex offender information is public. To find such sex offenders near a specific location or neighborhood, visit the Sex Offender Registry Database provided by the New Jersey State Police. Search this database using the name of the offender, email address, internet name, address, city, or zip code. It is also possible to view a comprehensive list of all published offenders or incarcerated offenders registered with the state police. It is recommended to register for email notifications. Registered persons receive prompt alerts whenever a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood.

New Jersey Sex Offender Registry

The New Jersey Sex offender registry was established in 1994 following Meghan’s Law. Sex offenders convicted from this date are required to register at their local police department. Habitual sex offenders who are “repetitive and compulsive by experts and the court” are also required to register regardless of their date of conviction. Similarly, juvenile sex offenders also register like adults. Depending on their risks, registered sex offenders must verify their addresses with local law enforcement annually or every 90 days.

Sex offenders in New Jersey notify the police of their change of address at least ten days prior to the move. That way, the police will determine if the location is appropriate, and if the answer is positive, they will then alert registered emails in the neighborhood of the potentially harmful neighbor.

Under New Jersey’s Meghan Law, registered sex offenders remain listed for life. However, eligible sex offenders may petition the court to be delisted from the sex offense registry. Eligible offenders include those that committed only one offense in the last 15 years and have proven to be safe to the public. Juvenile offenders who were below the age of 14 at the time of the offense but are currently above 18 years of age may also apply to be removed from the registry.

To determine the level of risk of a sex offender, the local police transfers the sex offender registration forms to the county prosecutors. It is the duty of the prosecutors to analyze the risk level of the offender to the community. In making this analysis, the prosecutors consider many factors set by statutes and the Attorney General’s Guidelines (Sex Offender Risk Assessment Scale). The Prosecutor then classifies the sex offender into one of three tiers depending on the risk of re-offense. The criteria for assessing sex offenders under the Risk Assessment Scale are detailed below.

Low Risk

  • CRITERIA—Seriousness of the offense
  • Degree of Force—No physical force; no threats
  • Degree of Contact—No contact; fondling over clothing
  • Age of Victim—18 or over

B. CRITERIA—Offense History

  1. Victim Selection—Household or family member
  2. Number of Offense/Victim—First known offense/victim
  3. Duration of Offensive Behavior—Less than one year
  4. Length of Time Since Last Offense—Five it more years
  5. History of Antisocial Acts—No history

C. CRITERIA—Characteristics of Offender

  1. Response to Treatment—Good progress
  2. Substance Abuse—No history of abuse

D. CRITERIA—Community Support

  1. Therapeutic Support—Current/continued involvement in therapy
  2. Residential Support—Supportive/supervised setting: appropriate location
  3. Employment/Educational Stability—Stable and appropriate

Moderate Risk

  • CRITERIA—Seriousness of the offense
  • Degree of Force—Use Of threat; minor physical force
  • Degree of Contact—Fondling under clothing
  • Age of Victim—13–17

B. CRITERIA—Offense History

  1. Victim Selection—Acquaintance
  2. Number of Offense/Victim—Two known offenses/victims
  3. Duration of Offensive Behavior—1–2 years
  4. Length of Time Since Last Offense—More than one but less than five years
  5. History of Antisocial Acts—Limited history

C. CRITERIA—Characteristics of Offender

  1. Response to Treatment—Limited progress
  2. Substance Abuse—In remission

D. CRITERIA—Community Support

  1. Therapeutic Support—Intermittent
  2. Residential Support—Stable and appropriate location but with no external support system
  3. Employment/Educational Stability—Intermittent but appropriate

High Risk

  • CRITERIA—Seriousness of the offense
  • Degree of Force—Violent; use of a weapon; significant victim harm
  • Degree of Contact—Penetration
  • Age of Victim—Under 13

B. CRITERIA—Offense History

  1. Victim Selection—Stranger
  2. Number of Offense/Victim—Three or more offenses/victims
  3. Duration of Offensive Behavior—Over two years
  4. Length of Time Since Last Offense—One year or less
  5. History of Antisocial Acts—Extensive history

C. CRITERIA—Characteristics of Offender

  1. Response to Treatment—Prior unsuccessful treatment or no progress in current treatment
  2. Substance Abuse—Not in remission

D. CRITERIA—Community Support

  1. Therapeutic Support—No involvement
  2. Residential Support—Problematic location and/or unstable; isolated
  3. Employment/Educational Stability—Inappropriate or none

Points are assigned to each category, which is added up to get a final score. As a standard rule, those scoring between 0 and 36 are classified as low risk (tier 1). Offenders with a moderate risk of re-offense (tier 2) score between 37 and 73, while the highest range (tier 3) is 74–111. Tier 3 and some tier 2 sex offenders are published on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry as a public safety tool.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that a person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in New Jersey?

Sex offenders in New Jersey are placed under certain restrictions to limit and monitor them under strict surveillance. Such restrictions can include living restrictions, work restrictions, travel restrictions, and more.

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