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Sexual Assault Law

The law in New Jersey regarding rape has changed significantly in the last few years. The term rape was replaced with sexual assault, allowing a broader definition of punishable offenses.

Sex crimes in New Jersey fall under Chapter 2C of the Criminal Code. The following are the laws in New Jersey pertaining to sexual assault:

2C:14-1 Definitions

  • “Actor” means a person accused of an offense proscribed under this act;
  • “Victim” means a person alleging to have been subjected to offenses proscribed by this act;
  • “Sexual Penetration” means vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or insertion of the hand, finger, or object into the anus or vagina either by the actor or upon the actor’s instruction. The depth of insertion shall not be relevant to the question of commission of the crime;
  • “Sexual Contact” means an intentional touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor. Sexual contact of the actor with himself must be in view of the victim whom the actor knows to be present;
  • “Intimate Parts” means the following body parts: sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin, buttock or breast of a person;
  • “Severe Personal Injury” means severe bodily injury, disfigurement, disease, incapacitating mental anguish or chronic pain;
  • “Physically Helpless” means that condition in which a person is unconscious or is physically unable to flee or is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to act;
  • “Mentally Defective” means that condition in which a person suffers from a mental disease or defect which renders that person temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding the nature of his conduct, including, but not limited to, being incapable of providing consent;
  • “Mentally Incapacitated” means that condition in which a person is rendered temporarily incapable of understanding or controlling his conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, intoxicant or other substance administered to that person without his prior knowledge of consent, or due to any other act committed upon that person which rendered that person incapable of appraising or controlling his conduct;
  • “Coercion” as used in this chapter shall refer to those acts which are defined as criminal coercion in section 2C: 13-5(1), (2), (3), (4), (6) and (7).

2C: 14-2a Sexual Assault

a. An actor is guilty of aggravated sexual assault if he commits an act of sexual penetration with another person under any one of the following circumstances:

(1) The victim is less than 13 years old.

(2) The victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years old; and

a. The actor is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree; or

b. the actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim; or

c. the actor is a foster parent, a guardian, or stands in loco parentis within the household;

(3) The act is committed during the commission, or attempted commission, whether alone or with one or more other persons, of robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault on another, burglary, arson, or criminal escape;

(4) The actor is armed with a weapon or any object fashioned in such a manner as to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a weapon and threatens by word or gesture to use the weapon or object;

(5) The actor is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and the actor uses physical force or coercion;

(6) The actor uses physical force or coercion and severe personal injury is sustained by the victim;

(7) The victim is one whom the actor knew or should have known was physically helpless, mentally defective or mentally incapacitated.

Aggravated sexual assault is a crime of the first degree.

2C: 14-2b,c Sexual Assault

a. An actor is guilty of sexual assault if he commits an act of sexual contact with a victim who is less than 13 years old and the actor is at least 4 years older than the victim.

b. An actor is guilty of sexual assault if he commits an act of sexual penetration with another person under any one of the following circumstances:

(1) The actor uses physical force or coercion, but the victim does not sustain severe personal injury;

(2) The victim is one whom the actor knew or should have known was physically helpless, mentally defective, or mentally incapacitated;

(3) 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;

(4)The victim is at least 16 but less than 18 years old and:

a. The actor is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree; or

b. the actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim; or

c. the actor is a foster parent, a guardian, or stands in loco parentis within the household;

(5) The victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years old and the actor is at least 4 years older than the victim.

Sexual assault is a crime of the second degree.

2C:14-3a Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact

a. An actor is guilty of aggravated criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with the victim under any circumstances set forth in 2C:14-2a (2) through (6) – See above.

Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a crime of the third degree.

2C:14-3b Criminal Sexual Contact

a. An actor is guilty of criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with the victim under any of the circumstances set forth in 2C:14-2a (1) through (5) – See above.

Criminal sexual contact is a crime of the fourth degree.

2C:14-4 Lewdness

a. A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he does any flagrantly lewd and offensive act which he knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other non-consenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed.

b. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if:

(1) He exposes his intimate parts for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person under circumstances where the actor knows or reasonably expects he is likely to be observed by a child who is less than 13 years of age where the actor is at least four years older than the child.

(2) He exposes his intimate parts for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person under circumstances where the actor knows or reasonably expects he is likely to be observed by a person who because of mental disease or defect is unable to understand the sexual nature of the actor’s conduct.

c. As used in this section: “lewd acts” shall include the exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person.

Mercer County

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault 24 Hour Hotline

(609) 394-9000

New Jersey Statewide

Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline

(800) 572-SAFE (7233)

For callers with hearing or speech impairments:

(TTY) 888-252-SAFE (7233)

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