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Long-Term Effects of a Sex Crime on the Accused in New Jersey

February 3, 2024

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Criminal offenses involving unlawful sexual behavior, such as sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault, luring or enticing a minor, aggravated criminal sexual contact, and several others, have severe consequences. The accused may suffer the effects for years, even after serving their sentence. Even before a conviction, police, judges, prosecutors, and public opinion view sex crime perpetrators with disdain, since the crime touches on base emotions, such as fear, shame, and moral disgust coupled with profound physical, psychological, and emotional injury. This denouncement is especially true when the crime involves a minor. The following outlines the wide-ranging effects of being accused of a sex offense in New Jersey. To get out in front of these allegations if you have been accused of a sex crime, contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney right away.

The Immediate Invasion of Being Investigated

An inherent bias toward sex offenses may affect criminal investigations, charges, and arrests. For example, the police investigation into a sex crime may lead investigators to believe they have probable cause to arrest the accused even before they bring charges. An arrest, including fingerprints, mugshot, and jail, can destroy someone’s reputation even if the case is dismissed. Further, the investigation may be a deep invasion of your personal effects, like your electronic devices, home, car, and bank records.

The Aftermath of an Arrest and Being Held in Jail Before Trial

The law also punishes a sex crime defendant in the pre-trial detention process. New Jersey judges typically release defendants pending trial since New Jersey’s bail reform laws took effect. Instead of bail, judges look at the whole picture in deciding whether to release a defendant. They examine the nature of the crime, the accused’s history, and public safety, among other considerations. A defendant’s release depends on an assessment that the defendant will return to court on appointed dates, will not interfere with the judicial process by intimidating witnesses, and will not commit further crimes while released.

Defendants who commit the most heinous crimes, like murder or other first and second-degree crimes, or those with life sentences, do not qualify for release. Those charged with sex crimes involving a minor are also likely to stay in jail until the conclusion of their case. If they do go free, the release comes with severe restrictions, such as house arrest or GPS monitoring, to ensure they return to court and stay away from the victim, electronic devices, or places where minors congregate. These restrictions can affect a person for months to years before a trial determines guilt or innocence. In effect, a sex crime defendant is imprisoned before being convicted.

A Lengthy Prison Term if Convicted

A conviction can result in a lengthy prison term. Though some sex crimes are disorderly persons offenses with maximum jail sentences of six months, others are serious second and first degree crimes with a minimum of 5 or 10 years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime, while sexual assault is a second degree crime, aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime, and criminal sexual contact is a fourth degree crime. Thus, the prison term range after conviction can be from a year to 20 years. Plus, some aggravated sexual assault charges have extended terms with mandatory minimums, which can land someone in prison for a minimum of 25 years and up to life.

The Costly Hit to Your Finances

A sex crime conviction can also lead to sky-high fines. The fines can range from $10,000.00 for a fourth degree crime to $200,000.00 for a first degree offense. In order to defend their case, a defendant is well advised to hire the best lawyer they can find, which means they also pay attorney’s fees. If convicted, the costs can exceed $100,000.00 depending on the charges. In addition, if they are serving a term of probation, they may be responsible for paying for supervision and other expenses.

Adding to a convicted sex offender’s financial trouble is the lack of government assistance. The government disqualifies sex offenders from benefits eligibility. Those with sex crime convictions on their records may not receive student loans, Medicare/Medicaid benefits, federal housing loans, or any other government benefits.   

Limited Job Prospects

Worse, a person accused of a sex crime may lose their job after their arrest. The stigma attached to sex crimes, even before conviction, may affect an employer’s decision to terminate an employee. Even an understanding employer may not be able to keep someone on staff if they are detained in jail pending trial and the resolution of their case. Even after serving a prison sentence, a convicted sex offender may have trouble finding employment, leading to further financial strain. Most employers run background checks and are less likely to hire someone with a criminal conviction, especially for a serious offense. The probability of getting passed over for an applicant with no criminal background or large gaps in employment is high.

Trouble with Immigration

The consequences for a non-citizen are even graver. An arrest or conviction for a sex crime can jeopardize an individual’s immigration status or lead to deportation. Serious indictable criminal charges or convictions, like aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, or aggravated criminal sexual contact with a minor, may result in an ICE detention after arrest and deportation. However, even lesser sex crimes, like lewdness, may affect your immigration status.

The Toll on Your Family and Personal Life

Regardless of citizenship status, the social, emotional, and psychological toll of a sex crime accusation or conviction is overwhelming. An arrest can traumatize a family when a spouse and children watch their loved one hauled off to jail, not to mention the long-lasting injury of betrayed trust and suspicion. Often, families of sex offenders suffer social reproach and isolation amidst mounting financial stresses due to legal fees, income loss, and counseling costs to cope with the trauma and loss.

The stress on a marriage may break the family apart and divorce may be the result. When children are part of the divorce, child custody is also a losing issue for the sex offender. New Jersey law prohibits those convicted of sexual assault or criminal sexual contact to obtain custody of or visitation with children unless clear and convincing evidence persuades a judge that it is in the best interests of a child or children to grant custody or visitation.

Being a Registered Sex Offender and the Public Stigma

For the offender who completes their sentence, the punishment does not end. Sex offenders convicted of sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct, false imprisonment, criminal restraint, kidnapping, promoting prostitution of a child, and luring or enticing, must register as sex offenders on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry.

According to Megan’s Law, the convicted offender must register with local law enforcement and report any changes in their address for minimally 15 years. Depending on the crime, an offender’s name, photo, address, vehicle identification, and other personal information are publicized to the community or certain portions, subjecting the offender to potential harassment and social isolation. Failing to register as a sex offender is a third degree crime, resulting in a three-to-five-year prison sentence and up to $15,000.00 in fines for a conviction.

Living Your Life on Parole

For those offenders on probation or parole, probation officers are specially trained to supervise sex offenders and ensure compliance with the terms of probation or parole, maintaining frequent contact with parolees and probationers. For example, they may track the internet, computer, laptop, cell phone, or other devices if a parole or probation term forbids internet and internet connection devices. The parolee or probationer pays for Internet monitoring and other resources, like counseling or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. The sex offender must also maintain a job or job training and other requirements of probation or parole.  

Housing and Residential Limitations

As a result of the registry, sex offenders are often unable to find adequate housing. Since the registry publicizes the offender’s private information, including residence address, photo, and the crimes they committed, the public knows their presence in a neighborhood. As such, many offenders suffer harassment and abuse for simply living in an area. Additionally, certain municipalities forbid sex offenders to live near schools or other places where children gather.

The Importance of a Lawyer who can Help from Arrest Through Trial in Burlington County NJ

Life after a sex crime arrest can be devastating and a conviction results in potentially lifelong supervision by the court system and the community unless the offender legally terminates the registration requirement. The sex crime lawyers at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay can assist clients in getting off the registry after 15 years and no other offenses in some cases. More importantly, an excellent attorney at our firm can defend you against sex crime charges. In actuality, even before charges are filed, we immediately take action to protect you during the investigation so the police do not take advantage of you to extract incriminating evidence. If you or a loved one is facing sex offense-related charges in Burlington County or elsewhere in Southern New Jersey, contact our office in Evesham Township now at (609) 850-8284 to speak with a sex crime defense attorney who can help. The consultation is entirely free and confidential.

Contact Us

Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.

Burlington Office

525 Highway 73,
Suite 104, Marlton,
New Jersey 08053
Phone: 609-850-8284
By Appointment Only

Hamilton Office

100 Horizon Center
Boulevard, Hamilton,
New Jersey, 08691
By Appointment Only

Point Pleasant Office

3828 River Road,
Suite A, Point Pleasant,
New Jersey 08742
By Appointment Only

Middletown Office

180 Kings Highway,
Middletown Township,
New Jersey 07748
By Appointment Only