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New Jersey Sexual Assault Laws

What is Considered "Rape" in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, sexual assault is the legal term for rape. The law defines sexual assault as "the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated." This crime is severely punished under state law, and covers a different range of sexual contact and levels of force or intimidation.

The following table highlights the main provisions of New Jersey's sexual assault laws. See also Statutory Rape, and Sex Offenders and Sex Offenses.

Code Sections

Sexual Assault: 2C: 14-2 et seq.

Elements of Sexual Assault
  • Having sexual contact with someone who is under 13 years of age and you are over 17, or
  • Committing an act of sexual penetration when:
  • Using physical force not resulting in injury of the victim,
  • The victim is under your control, as in the case of prison inmate or probationer,
  • The victim is between 16 and 18 and is related to you or you have control over them, or
  • The victim is between 13 and 16 and you are four years older.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

  • Victim is under 13 years old,
    Victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and you are a family member or have other control over them,
  • The act is committed during the commission of another crime (assault, murder, robbery, kidnapping, etc.),
  • The act is committed using a weapon or the threat of a weapon,
  • You act with assistance of someone else, using force,
    The victim is handicapped or in some way incapacitated.
What is the definition of "sexual penetration" and "sexual contact?"
  • 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 defendant on the defendant's instruction.
  • “Sexual Contact” means an intentional touching by the victim or defendant, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s or defendant's intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the defendant. Sexual contact of the defendant with himself must be in view of the victim whom the actor knows to be present.

Felony, punishment depends on the nature of the crime and age of the victim. Generally, sexual assault is a 2nd degree crime and carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence.

Aggravated sexual assault is a 1st degree crime and carries up to 20 years in prison.

Sex Offender Registration?

If you are convicted of the above crimes, you will likely have to register as a sexual offender with the State of New Jersey.

Time Limit to Report?

None. There is no statute of limitations on reporting sexual assault in New Jersey.

Definition of "Intimate Parts"

“Intimate Parts” means the following body parts: sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin, buttock or breast of a person.


If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted contact any of the following resources:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE
  • Statewide Hotline: (800) 601-7200
  • New Jersey Law Enforcement or 911

Charged with Sexual Assault in New Jersey? Get Legal Help

If you do find yourself facing a sexual assault charge in New Jersey, you should know that penalties can be severe and you may also be required to register as a sex offender. That's why the right legal representation is so crucial. If you've been arrested for violating New Jersey sexual assault laws, it's best to speak with a local sex crime attorney who can explain your options and represent you in plea negotiations and court, if necessary.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex cases usually require a lawyer
  • Experienced lawyers can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties
  • Sexual assaults & sex crime convictions often have long sentences and lifelong consequences

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