Recent changes to New Jersey’s child sexual abuse and child pornography laws

A bill enacted this summer makes significant changes to New Jersey’s child sexual abuse and child pornography laws. The new provisions clarify the law, update it to apply to a broader range of technologies, and expand the penalties for child sexual abuse and exploitation, bringing it more into line with federal law.

 

Key provisions in the new law include the following:

  • Minors up to the age of 18 are now protected from sexual abuse and exploitation under the child endangerment statute. Previously, the statute only protected minors up to the age of 16.
  • Updated definitions and terminology have been incorporated into the child sexual abuse and child pornography statutes to better address digital technology and to prevent offenders from using new technology to exploit loopholes in the law.
  • The legislation expands the scope of criminal liability for child pornography possession, distribution, and production offenses. Some offenses have been upgraded and subject to harsher penalties, while other offenses are now subject to mandatory minimum sentences.
  • The law also adds a provision to Megan’s Law authorizing special lifetime parole supervision for child pornography offenders, and it makes these offenses ineligible for expungement.

 

For more information about child sexual assault and child pornography offenses in New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of Palumbo & Renaud at 908-337-7353 and ask to schedule a free legal consultation. Palumbo & Renaud serves clients facing all types of criminal charges, primarily in Essex County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, and Union County. Call today and find out how we can help you.

 

 

 

Essex County sex offender entitled to withdraw guilty plea, court holds

An Essex County man who pled guilty to third degree child endangerment charges in 2005 was granted post-conviction relief by a New Jersey appeals court in December. The defendant, Carlton Green, filed for relief after he had completed his 3 year sentence and was civilly committed as a sexually violent predator, claiming that his plea counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him that he faced the possibility of lifetime commitment. The court agreed and held that the initial guilty plea had to be vacated. State v. Green, No. A-1826-11T4 (N.J. Super. Dec. 27, 2012).

 

The record in Green’s case showed that he had acknowledged the risk of being civilly committed during a brief interchange with the judge at his sentence hearing, but his plea counsel did not recollect whether he had actually explained to Green what this meant. Importantly, Green’s signature was also conspicuously absent from the plea form which detailed the possibility of lifetime civil commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act and Green testified that he believed he was facing just 3 years in jail.

 

In State v. Bellamy, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed a claim of ineffective counsel in the context of the Sexually Violent Predator Act and held that “when the consequence of a plea may be so severe that a defendant may be confined for the remainder of his or her life, fundamental fairness demands that the trial court inform defendant of that possible consequence.” In such cases, the failure of either the court or defense counsel to sufficiently explain the consequences deprives the defendant of information which is needed to make a knowing and voluntary plea, and the appropriate remedy is to remand the case and allow the defendant to withdraw the plea.

 

The court found that the Bellamy standard was not met in this case, as the record was “completely barren of any written plea forms that mention” civil commitment and the only time that it was mentioned during Green’s hearing was a “stray comment of the judge who oversaw the plea allocution.” The court also emphasized that under Bellamy, Green did not need to show that the result of the case would have been different had he been aware of the consequence of possible lifetime commitment; rather, “no additional showing beyond a lack of knowledge is required, which was clearly provided through Green’s uncontradicted testimony on remand.”

 

If you’ve been charged with a sex offense in New Jersey, the last thing you need is a lawyer who doesn’t know how to defend you or who doesn’t care enough to help you understand your case. The results can be disastrous, as this case demonstrates, with wasted years of incarceration and appeals. The much better route is to consult with an experienced sex crime defense lawyer at the earliest possible date so that you can prevent major errors from occurring and make sure that you’ve chosen the best legal strategy to protect your rights and reduce your penalties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online sting operation nabs Monmouth County man for attempted child sex crimes

A Monmouth County man was arrested for attempted child endangerment and attempted luring after engaging in sexually explicit internet chats with a Passaic County sheriff’s officer posing as a 12 year old girl. The man, unaware that his chat partner was a police officer, allegedly asked to meet the girl several times to go camping, to the mall, and horseback riding. On two occasions he also initiated video chats with the officer and exposed his genitals.

 

The offense of endangering the welfare of a child applies when an actor engages in a prohibited sexual act with a child who is less than 16 years old. “Prohibited sexual acts” include not just sexual penetration, but also bestiality, sadism, masochism, oral sex, and the possession, creation, or distribution of child pornography. As a result, the offense encompasses many different types of crimes, ranging from consensual sexual activities between adults and minor children to more egregious cases of child sexual abuse, and the penalties increase along with the severity of those circumstances. To prove charges of attempted child endangerment, as in this case, the state has to prove that the actor took a substantial step in a course of conduct that would have constituted child endangerment if the offense was completed. Attempted child endangerment generally carries the same penalty that would apply had the crime been completed.

 

Luring is a separate crime that occurs when a person attempts to lure or entice a child under the age of 18 into a motor vehicle, structure, or isolated area, or attempts to convince the child to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense against the child.  Luring is generally a second degree crime and carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison.

 

The use of online “sting operations” to catch child predators has become increasingly common in recent years as sex offenders have learned to use chat rooms, social networking sites, and other online tools to lure minors into sexual situations. These law enforcement operations, however, may be susceptible to challenges of unlawful entrapment if the defendant can prove that the police officer’s conduct would have coerced an otherwise law-abiding individual to commit the crime under similar circumstances.

 

I am Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey sex crimes defense attorney, and I’ve represented clients against charges of luring and solicitation of minors for nearly 40 years. If you’ve been arrested as part of an online sting operation and believe that you were a victim of entrapment, contact me at  908-337-7353 to discuss your case, confidentially and at no cost. It’s possible that you could have other defenses available in your case, such as constitutional claims or evidentiary challenges, and even if you were caught red-handed, you might still be able to negotiate a favorable plea deal and have the charges reduced.

Union County man arrested for child sexual abuse

As NJ.com reports, a man trying to flee the country was recently arrested in Union County and charged with sexually abusing two young children. Officials have learned the first names of two additional victims and are currently trying to identify them.

 

Under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, committing an act of sexual penetration with a victim who is less than 13 years old is classified as first degree aggravated sexual assault and is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. Committing other types of sexual contact with a victim under 13 years old can be separately charged as a second degree sexual assault, which carries penalties of 5 to 10 years in prison. Charges for endangering the welfare of a child are also common in child sex abuse cases.

 

In addition to these penalties, convicted child sex offenders must also register as sex offenders under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. This can be one of the most difficult parts of a child sex abuse case because registration is very public and can continue after prison or even permanently, severely damaging offenders’ reputations and making it difficult for them to obtain housing and employment.

 

If you’ve been charged with child sexual abuse in Union County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you need a knowledgeable and skilled sex crimes defense attorney who will fight to have your charges dismissed or downgraded. Being accused of a child sex crime can have serious consequences, and even if you’re innocent, the mere accusation can cost you your professional and personal reputation. If you need assistance in defending yourself against sexual assault charges, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, on my website www.palumbo-renaud.com or at 1-866-664-8118 for a free and confidential consultation.

 


Ocean Township police arrest ex-con for child sex assault

Police in Ocean Township charged a convicted felon with criminal sexual contact and sexual assault in relation to an alleged attack on a 13 year old girl, according to the Asbury Park Press. The man, who was incarcerated from 1997 to 2003 for other crimes, was friend of the victim’s family.

 

Second degree child sexual assault is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, and includes situations where the victim is between 13 and 16 years old and the actor is at least 4 years older than the victim. These circumstances also qualify as fourth degree criminal sexual contact, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.

 

In addition to these penalties, convicted child sex offenders must also register as sex offenders under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. This can be one of the most difficult parts of a child sex abuse case because registration is very public and can continue after prison or even permanently, severely damaging offenders’ reputations and making it difficult for them to obtain housing and employment.

 

Sexual offenses involving children are some of the most damaging offenses in criminal law, and the mere accusation that a person has committed a child sexual assault can be enough to destroy that person’s family and career forever. If you’ve been charged with child sexual assault in New Jersey, you need a knowledgeable and skilled child sex abuse defense attorney who will fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed. For a seasoned criminal defense attorney, you can 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.

 

Monmouth County pizza deliveryman charged with sexually assaulting 14 year old girl

A 22 year old pizza deliveryman from Freehold was arrested for allegedly attacking a 14 year old girl on two separate occasions, the Asbury Park Press reports. Police charged him with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual contact, and two counts of child endangerment.

Second degree child sexual assault is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, and includes situations where the defendant commits an act of sexual penetration and the victim is between 13 and 16 years old and is at least 4 years younger than the defendant. These circumstances also qualify as fourth degree criminal sexual contact, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.

The offense of third degree child endangerment occurs when a person causes harm to a child under the age of 16 or engages in prohibited sexual acts with the child, such as intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, or other types of sexual conduct. A conviction for third degree child endangerment is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison.

If you’ve been charged with a child sexual assault or face other criminal charges in New Jersey, you need an experienced defense lawyer who will press every legal advantage and fight for your rights throughout the entire judicial process. Don’t wait until it’s too late to fight your charges—consult with an attorney as soon as possible. I am Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, and to learn what I can do to fight your charges, contact me for a free and confidential consultation through the email form on my website or at 1-866-664-8118.

 


New Jersey Juvenile found guilty of burglary and sexual assault, despite previous friendship with victim

A New Jersey appellate court recently upheld the conviction of a juvenile for acts which would have constituted third degree burglary and second degree sexual assault if he were an adult. He was sentenced to three years of probation, with a suspended sentence of three years at a juvenile training school. The case, State ex. Rel. T.W., can be viewed here.

 

The juvenile, T.W., was accused of climbing through a girl’s window and having sexual intercourse with her while she was sleeping. The girl, M.M., was 16 years old, and had known T.W. for a long time. Before that night, she had considered him a friend, and he frequently spent time at the house, sometimes even sleeping there. Just after M.M. woke up and found T.W. in her room, her cousin and three other acquaintances arrived, and she told them what had happened. The commotion woke up M.M.’s mother, B.B., who then questioned T.W. about what had occurred. B.B. claimed that T.W. admitted to her that he climbed through M.M.’s window and “did it to her.”

 

To sustain a charge of third degree burglary, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the actor entered a structure that he was not permitted to enter, and that he did so with the intent to commit an offense. N.J.S.A. § 2C:18-2. For a charge of second degree sexual assault, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the actor engaged in sexual penetration without the victim’s freely given consent.  N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2.

 

On appeal from his conviction, T.W. claimed that he was allowed to enter M.M.’s house without her permission, based on prior occasions when he had done so, and he emphasized that the state had presented no physical or forensic evidence to support the allegation of sexual assault. But the court ruled that these arguments were insufficient, and concluded that the evidence proved the elements of burglary and sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the court affirmed the adjudication of delinquency.

 

It is very important to hire a juvenile interrogation rights attorney because getting in trouble as a juvenile is a scary ordeal, and if the charge isn’t handled properly, it can leave a harrowing mark on a young person’s future. If your child has been accused of a juvenile offense, you can contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney  at 1-866-664-8118 for a free consultation. With more than 35 years of experience, I have successfully tried hundreds of juvenile court cases both as a county prosecutor and as a private defense attorney. I can help you to understand the charges that your child faces, and I can give you an honest assessment of the possible penalties and consequences.  And even if you decide not to retain my services, the consultation is entirely confidential, so you can get answers to important questions about what’s ahead for your child. Contact me today at 1-866-664-8118 and get the results you need to get your child’s life back on track.

Sexual Assault Involving Minors

The New Jersey Appellate Division strengthened the law prohibiting sexual crimes against children in a recent decision regarding the State’s burden of proof.

On appeal from a case in Mercer County, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that State need only show that a defendant acted with a “knowing” state of mind when he committed an act of sexual assault against a child, and not necessarily when he “impaired or debauched” the morals of a child.

The Court reasoned:

The “knowingly” state of mind is found to be a mandatory requirement for the first element of the offense, “engages in sexual conduct,” the mens rea element would not automatically be a mandatory requirement of the second element, “would impair or debauch the morals of the child.” Stated differently, because N.J.S.A. 2C:2-2(c)(3) specifies that the gap filler statute applies to “some or all” of the elements of the offense, it is possible for the mental culpability requirement to be satisfied by proof only that the defendant knowingly engaged in sexual conduct.

The result of this ruling is a strengthened prohibition against criminal sexual contact involving children.  In situations involving explicit sexual contact, it would be no defense that defendant did not knowingly intend to debauch or impair the morals of a child.  The Court, however, left open the possibility of this defense being raised in cases where there was no sexual contact such as in instances of child pornography or indecent exposure.

This case, State v. Bryant, A-1480-09T4, has been approved for publication as of March 3, 2011.

 

Child Molesters & Miranda Warnings

New Jersey Child Molestation Attorney – Anthony N. Palumbo
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held that police were not required to repeat Miranda rights to a child molester during the custodial interrogation which resulted in his arrest.  In the child molestation case, the man went to the police station under the impression that his uncle was under investigation for child molestation.  The police read the man his Miranda rights then questioned him.  Later, the police informed him that he was also a suspect in the investigation, and could possibly be facing molestation charges.  The definition of child molestation is a crime involving sexual relations between an adult and a minor child who is usually less than 14 years of age.  And a conviction of this crime results in lifelong legal consequences.  In the case described above, the accused was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.  The lower court found that the police should have re-stated the man’s Miranda rights once he became a suspect, and that since the rights were not re-stated, any statements made by the man after he became a suspect could not be used at trial.  While the suspect entertained an avid criminal defense, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling in a unanimous decision.  While this decision may seem like the law is depriving sex offenders of their constitutional rights, the decision does not actually have anything to do with child molestation law.

Last February, the New Jersey court ruled that when an individual is Mirandized and questioned as a witness, but later becomes a suspect, the police are not required to re-state his Miranda rights in accordance with the 5th Amendment.  State v. Nyhammer.  Thus, it is irrelevant that the man in this case was a sex offender because the same rule would have applied if he had committed another crime and his status changed from witness to suspect.  Miranda rights are those rights read by the police when you are arrested.  If you have ever watched Law & Order you have probably heard detective Elliot Stabler or detective Olivia Bensen read these rights on TV.  “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law…”  What these rights actually require is that before a person is questioned, that person must be warned that he does not have to say anything to the police, and he can request an attorney.  If he requests an attorney, no more questions can be asked until the attorney arrives.  If questions are asked, the answers will not be allowed at trial.  A person can also waive the Miranda right and choose to speak to the police, but if at any time he asks for an attorney, the questioning must end until an attorney arrives.  Thus, it is important to always ask for an attorney and refrain from answering police questions, not matter how tempting.
For more information on Crimes against Children in Union County, visit my website Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer at www.palumbo-renaud.com.

New Jersey Solicitation of a Minor | Roselle Park, Union County Attorney

Solicitation of a minor is a crime that is commonly initiated over the internet and can carry serious penalties if a conviction results.  In New Jersey, solicitation of a minor is the same crime as luring or child enticement. These are just different names for the same criminal act.  A person will be guilty of solicitation of a minor in New Jersey if he attempts by any means to lure someone he reasonably believes to be a child into a car or other isolated area with the intent to commit a criminal offense against the child.  A person cannot be convicted of this crime for merely conversing with a child over the internet.  A more substantial step must be taken in order to determine the defendant’s intent to commit an offense against the child.   Additionally, the intent must exist once the meeting occurs.  If an adult simply meets a child for coffee or for some other non-criminal reason, it is also not a crime under this statute.

The penalties for solicitation of a minor are severe and are even more severe if the defendant has been previously convicted of the crime.  A first offense is a second-degree crime that carries 5 to 10 years in prison.  A second offense is also a second-degree crime, however a second offense carries requires that the defendant remain ineligible for parole for one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed.  Therefore a sentence of 9 years would require the defendant to serve three to four and one-half years before becoming eligible for parole.