Skip to Content

Call Us - Problem Solved

7 Defenses to Sexual Assault Charges in New Jersey

February 15, 2024 | Posted In Sexual Assault

Sexual assault charges carry substantial penalties in New Jersey. These charges are comparable to rape charges in other states, and a conviction can potentially lead to a six-figure fine, up to 20 years with 85% ineligibility for parole (or, in some cases, up to life in prison with 25 years of parole eligibility), mandatory sex offender registration, and a variety of other penalties and collateral consequences. As a result, when facing these charges, it is critical to speak with an experienced New Jersey sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible.

While sexual assault charges carry several risks, there are also several potential defenses to these charges under New Jersey law. When you hire an experienced New Jersey sexual assault lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will evaluate all potential defenses and help you present the strongest defense possible in light of the circumstances at hand.

Potential Defenses in a New Jersey Sexual Assault Case

How can you defend against a sexual assault charge in New Jersey? Depending on the circumstances of your case, defenses that you may have available include:

1. No Coercion

While there are several forms of sexual assault under New Jersey law, sexual assault cases often involve allegations of committing an act of sexual penetration “using coercion or without the victim’s affirmative and freely-given permission.” As a result, challenging the prosecution’s evidence of coercion will be an effective defense strategy in some cases.

Coercion is not clearly defined under New Jersey law. However, it is generally understood to mean purposely attempting to compel someone to do something against their will. Making threats, harassing, intimidating, and using other means to put someone in an uncomfortable position or in fear for their safety can all be considered coercion under New Jersey law.

If prosecutors cannot prove that you used coercion, this could be enough to save you from a sexual assault conviction, depending on the facts of your case. Eye-witness testimony, video footage and various other forms of evidence may be available to prove that you did not coerce the alleged victim. Or, at the very least, the available evidence may be insufficient to prove that you coerced the alleged victim beyond a reasonable doubt.

2. Consent

Consent is a complete defense to sexual assault in New Jersey. If you engaged in an act of sexual penetration with the victim’s “affirmative and freely-given permission,” you did not commit a sexual assault.

Similar to the lack-of-coercion defense, you can raise the consent defense by presenting affirmative evidence of consent or challenging the prosecution’s evidence that consent was lacking. An experienced New Jersey sexual assault lawyer will be able to examine the evidence in your case to determine if a defense based on consent is likely to succeed in court.

3. False Accusations

False accusations are common in sexual assault cases, especially in cases involving domestic disputes, college parties, and other circumstances in which the alleged victim either knows the defendant or is afraid of the reputational consequences of admitting consent. If you are a victim of false allegations, you do not deserve to face the consequences of a conviction, and your lawyer will seek out any and all available forms of evidence to prove that you have been wrongfully accused.

Along with eye-witness testimony and video footage, social media, text messages and other communications often play a key role in these cases as well. If the alleged victim has posted about the incident on social media or told the truth to his or her friends or family members, you are entitled to present this as evidence in support of your sexual assault defense.

4. Involuntary or Pathological Intoxication

Involuntary drug or alcohol intoxication is also a defense to sexual assault charges in New Jersey. “Pathological” intoxication is a defense as well. Under New Jersey law, intoxication is considered involuntary if it is “not self-induced,” while pathological intoxication is defined as “intoxication grossly excessive in degree, given the amount of the intoxicant, to which the actor does not know he is susceptible.”

To assert an involuntary or pathological intoxication defense, you must be able to prove that at the time of the alleged sexual assault, you “did not know the nature and quality of the act [you were] doing, or if [you] did know it, that [you] did not know what [you were] doing was wrong.” You must also be able to prove your intoxication by “clear and convincing evidence.”

5. Alibi or Other Objective Evidence of Innocence

If you did not engage in sexual relations with the alleged victim on the night in question, you may be able to avoid a conviction by presenting an alibi or other objective evidence of innocence. In this situation, your social media posts, text messages or other communications with friends and family may be key evidence for your defense. Depending on the circumstances, your New Jersey sexual assault lawyer may be able to use receipts, surveillance camera footage, vehicle tracking data and various other forms of evidence as well.

6. Violation of Your Constitutional Rights

If the police violated your constitutional rights (including your rights under the Fourth or Fifth Amendment), this could render the government’s evidence against you inadmissible in court. If your New Jersey sexual assault lawyer can file a successful motion to suppress the government’s evidence against you, this could leave prosecutors without the evidence they need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

7. Insufficient Evidence to Meet the Prosecution’s Burden of Proof

Regardless of the admissibility of the government’s evidence against you, your lawyer may be able to successfully defend against your sexual assault charge by showing that the available evidence is insufficient to meet the prosecution’s burden of proof. If the prosecution’s evidence does not prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then you are entitled to walk free regardless of the underlying facts of your sexual assault case.

Request an Appointment with a New Jersey Sexual Assault Lawyer Today

To discuss your case with a New Jersey sexual assault lawyer, call us at 877-435-6371 or contact us online. We will arrange for you to speak with a lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. in confidence as soon as possible.

Call Us - Problem Solved

Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

Time is of the Essence

Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.