Depending on what state you reside in, the terms rape and sexual assault may be used interchangeably. Some states have the stance that there is a notable difference between the two terms, whether it’s based on severity, the type of assault, or age. In the state of New Jersey, we call rape a sexual assault and New Jersey statutes refer to it as such.
WHAT DEFINES SEXUAL ASSAULT?
Because the term “sexual assault” is so broad, it is necessary to clearly define what actions fall under this umbrella term. In all cases, the sex of the defendant and victim are irrelevant. Based on New Jersey Revised Statutes, Title 2C: 14-2, either of the following non-consensual actions may be considered an act of sexual assault:
- Having sexual contact with someone younger than 13 years old if you are more than 17 years old
- Sexual contact when:
- Combined with physical force
- You are in a position of trust and control over the victim
- You are in a position of trust and control when the victim is between 16 and 18 years old and is related to you
- You are four years older than the victim and he or she is between 13 and 16 years old
New Jersey Statute takes the definition a step further in order to clarify what actions are considered aggravated sexual assault. These non-consensual situations may include sexual contact when:
- The victim is less than 13 years old
- The victim is between 13 and 16 years old and the perpetrator is a family member or other person in a position of trust and control
- Committed during the course of another crime such as kidnapping, robbery, or assault
- While threatening the victim with a weapon
- Using force with the assistance of another perpetrator
- Committed against handicapped or incapacitated persons
While these definitions seem very precise, every situation is unique. Especially in cases of statutory rape charges, it is vital to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to understand the full scope of your charges, potential defense arguments, and possible penalties. It’s also important to know that, in the state of New Jersey, there is no statute of limitations for reporting sexual assault to the authorities, so you should never assume that enough time has passed to grant you immunity from such charges.