Juvenile Sexual Assault Charges in Essex County
The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which is used by law enforcement to track crime data, indicates that approximately thirty-five (35) percent of the sex offenses against minors are committed by another juvenile. This is a huge block of offenses obviously does not include victims who are adults. The largest percentage of child-on-child sex offenses involve sexual assault and criminal sexual contact (i.e. fondling). The Juvenile Division in Newark hears an array of sex offenses every year and the same laws that apply to adults are applied in cases involving children/minors. N.J.S.A. 2C:12-2 applies in cases of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault and N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3 is the law that applies to aggravated criminal sexual contact and criminal sexual contact charges. Offenses like these are indictable crimes, felony offenses, that give rise to significant periods of juvenile detention as well as the potential for lifelong registration as a sex offender. The following is the maximum period of incarceration for juveniles:
- Four (4) Years for a First Degree Crime. Aggravated sexual assault falls within this grading.
- Three (3) Years for Second Degree Crime. Sexual assault and, in certain circumstances, endangering the welfare of a child, are 3rd degree sex crimes.
- Two (2) Years for Third Degree Crime. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime. Endangering can also fall under this grade.
- One (1) Year for Fourth Degree Crime. Criminal sexual contact is a fourth degree crime.
As previously stated, there is the real possibility of Megan’s Law applying in child sex cases, and it is an absolutely certainty if the case involves sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual contact.
Although mandatory registration applies the same way in juvenile cases as it does for adults, special termination rules apply. If the minor/child was under fourteen (14) years old at the time of conviction, then the juvenile may apply for termination from Megan’s Law registration upon reaching the age of eighteen (18). For children that are between fourteen (14) and eighteen (18), the adult termination requirements apply. This means that the juvenile must wait fifteen (15) years, not re-commit another offense, and establish to the court that he/she is no longer a threat to the community. Note, however, that someone convicted of aggravated sexual assault is never removable from the registered sex offender list.