Sex offender conviction and sentence upheld by New Jersey appeals court

In State v. Rocero, decided in March, the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the conviction and sentence issued in a Middlesex County child sexual abuse case. The defendant was accused of sexually abusing his girlfriend’s niece. He was found guilty on the charges of second degree sexual assault and second degree child endangerment, resulting in a 7 year sentence with an 85% period of parole ineligibility for the first charge, and a concurrent 7 year sentence for the second charge.


On appeal, the defendant first contended that testimony given by one of the victim’s friends was inadmissible and overly prejudicial. In particular, the witness testified that the victim confided to her that she had been abused after learning about sexual abuse in school, and that on a later occasion she complained about the abuse while they were watching a soap opera that depicted similar events. Rejecting the defendant’s arguments, the court found that the testimony was admissible as “fresh complaint evidence” because the victim’s statements were made to someone she would ordinarily turn to for support and because they were spontaneous and voluntary.


The defendant’s second argument was that his 7 year sentence was excessive, but the court rejected it as well. As the court explained, the judge properly found as aggravating factors the gravity and seriousness of harm, the risk that he would commit another offense, the defendant’s abuse of a position of trust, and the need to deter others from violating the law. In mitigation, the judge acknowledged the defendant’s lack of a criminal record and the likelihood that he would respond well to probationary treatment. The judge’s consideration of both aggravating and mitigating factors was proper, the court found, and there was no basis for interfering with the sentence.


If you need assistance in defending yourself against child sex abuse charges, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, through the email form on my website or at 1-866-664-8118 for a free and confidential consultation. I will represent your interests aggressively and help to guide you through this difficult process, and with more than 35 years of experience as a prosecutor, public defender, and criminal defense lawyer, I know the tricks and tactics that the other side uses and the best strategies for protecting your rights.