New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Defense Lawyers
Representing Clients in Essex County and throughout NJ
Have you been accused of child sexual abuse in New Jersey? If so, you should know the seriousness with which these cases are handled by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), previously the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), and prosecutors in the New Jersey criminal justice system. Your exposure to DCPP investigation, as well as investigation by law enforcement, leaves you open to numerous potential repercussions, not the least of which is permanent removal of the child from your custody. Facing allegations of sexually abusing a child or allowing a child to be sexually abused while under your care can lead to criminal charges, prison time, Megan’s Law Registration as a sex offender, and prohibition from being anywhere near children for the rest of your life, depending on the circumstances. The court’s findings, whether in Family Court or Criminal Court, can be devastating.
Even the mere allegation of child sexual abuse can cause irreparable harm to you and your family. For these reasons, it is imperative to seek the most effective defense strategy, which an experienced child sexual abuse defense lawyer can provide. The attorneys at our firm have extensive experience defending clients accused of sexual abuse in courts across New Jersey, including in Morristown, Jersey City, Hackensack, Paterson, Newark, Elizabeth, and New Brunswick. To consult with a knowledgeable sexual abuse defense attorney who can provide specific answers to your questions and the personalized advisement and representation you need now, contact us at (908)-356-6900 or send us a message online. Consultations are free and entirely confidential.
What is Sexual Abuse of a Child?
New Jersey defines child sexual abuse as an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact between a child under the age of 18 and an adult. In addition to being accused as the person who allegedly carried out the sexual abuse, a parent or guardian who knows about the abuse or allows it to occur by any other person against their child, could also be accused in a child sexual abuse case. Several different kinds of acts can be included in the definition of child sexual abuse as it relates to both DCPP involvement and criminal allegations. This includes indecent exposure, pressuring the child to engage in sexual activities, physical sexual contact with a child, and the use of a child to produce some form of child pornography.
How do Child Sexual Abuse Investigations Begin in NJ?
There are numerous potential signs that a child has become a victim of sexual abuse, some of which are harder to verify than others. A teacher, doctor, family friend, coach, or another party might escalate situations involving the child’s use of inappropriate sexual language, direct claims from the child about abusive incidents, sexually inappropriate behavior, a child suffering from depression or anxiety, signs of infection in the genital area, pregnancy, academic changes, or the sudden receipt of gifts from a person in an authority position like a church leader or teacher.
All people are considered mandatory reporters of child abuse in New Jersey, meaning that they hold a legal responsibility to report suspect child sexual abuse to the authorities. In most cases, the claims are referred to DCPP in New Jersey, also known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. This means that someone at the agency needs to start an investigation into whether or not child sexual abuse has occurred. When the County Prosecutor learns of a case of suspected child abuse, they can contact the DCPP office to advise that office about the incident. The local DCPP office is also notified when calls come in through the Child Abuse Hotline.
The Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit will be involved in cases in which the sexual abuse was allegedly carried out by someone in a non-family home setting, such as a school or foster home. Under New Jersey law and guidelines for Child Protection Investigations, the IAUI has to make a determination of whether child sexual abuse is substantiated, established, unfounded, or not established.
Accused of Sexually Abusing a Child in NJ, What Consequences am I Facing?
Being accused of child sexual abuse is a serious matter in New Jersey, even if you believe that the allegations are false or that a situation has been misunderstood. It is imperative to ensure that you recognize the dangerous of being accused of child sexual abuse immediately and take action to present your best defense against these allegations. The stigma of being accused of child sexual abuse is sometimes overwhelming for a person trying to sort out how this affects their individual freedom or even their professional life.
In addition to the impact this could have on your job if you were accused in a position of authority, there is also the possibility of criminal charges. Based on the alleged acts in question, you could face a first degree aggravated sexual assault charge if you allegedly committed an act of sexual penetration with a child younger than age 13, or when the victim is at least 13 years old but is younger than 16, if you are related to the victim, the victim’s resource family parent or guardian, or another person who has a close fiduciary relationship with the victim. These cases involve severe physical injury to victim, the use of force or a weapon, are committed while committing another crime, or when the victim is mentally incapacitated. A conviction for a first degree crime involving sexual abuse can carry up to 20 years in prison, mandatory sex offender registration for life, and permanent community supervision.
A similar but lesser charge that you could face for alleged sexual abuse is second degree sexual assault, which involves cases in which penetration occurs and the victim is 13 years old or older, and the defendant is 17 or older, or the defendant is at least 4 years older than the victim. Second degree sexual assault involves the use of force but generally does not result in severe injury for the victim. Notably, sexual penetration can occur by any means through any part of the body. This allegation, upon conviction, can carry a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years. Upon conviction, the other serious consequence for the convicted party is the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Further, there are other sex crimes for which you can be prosecuted when it comes to sexual abuse of child. For instance, you may face charges involving child pornography known as endangering the welfare of a child. In fact, endangering the welfare of a child charges can apply when any person having a legal duty to care for a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child, engages in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the child. In addition, you can be charged with a violation of this law if you are not responsible for the care of the child but you engage in such conduct that would impair or debauch a child’s morals. Criminal sexual contact charges may also apply in child sexual abuse cases, the degree of which depends on the specific conduct involved in the offense.
Investigations and charges can also impact a parent or caregiver’s ability to have child custody, visitation, or parenting time with the child. When sexual abuse investigations by DYFS and/or law enforcement occur, the presiding court will be involved in determining what time, if any, should be given to a parent under investigation for child sexual abuse.
Speak with a Newark NJ Sexual Abuse Defense Attorney Today
Given the complexities and many impacts of child sexual abuse accusations in New Jersey, an accused party should always have qualified legal counsel in the form of an experienced NJ child sexual abuse defense lawyer. We at The Tormey Law Firm have successfully defended parents, guardians, and others accused of sexual abuse of a minor in cases involving criminal prosecution and DCPP. If you need help with a child sexual abuse claim against you or someone you love, contact us at (908)-356-6900 for immediate assistance in a free consultation.