In addition to incarceration, fines, sex offender registration and various other penalties, individuals convicted of various sex-related offenses in New Jersey can also be sentenced to parole supervision for life. This is just like it sounds – being on parole for the rest of your life – but the conditions of parole supervision for life are also more onerous than those of “ordinary” parole. That said, it is important to speak with a New Jersey criminal lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing charges that can lead to parole supervision for life.
Charges That Lead to Parole Supervision for Life
Under Section 2C:43-6.4 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, parole supervision for life is mandatory for individuals convicted of the following sex-related offenses:
Aggravated Sexual AssaultAggravated sexual assault is a first-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. It is comparable to the crime of rape in other states (New Jersey does not have a separate rape statute). Under Section 2C:14-2 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes, aggravated sexual assault involves “an act of sexual penetration” with a victim covered under the aggravated criminal sexual contact law discussed above.
The crime of sexual assault is also defined in Section 2C:14-2 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes. Sexual assault is a second-degree indictable offense that involves an act of sexual penetration with a victim who is not covered under the statute’s aggravated sexual assault provisions.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual ContactThe crime of aggravated criminal sexual contact is outlined in Section 2C:14-3 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third-degree indictable offense, and it involves committing “an act of sexual contact” with a victim who is between the ages of 13 and 16 or who is a blood relative of the perpetrator. Prosecutors can also pursue aggravated criminal sexual contact charges in cases involving sexual contact during the commission of a crime, while armed with a weapon, by coercion or without consent, and in various other circumstances.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child
Committing the crime of endangering the welfare of a child can lead to parole supervision for life in certain circumstances. Specifically, the judge can order parole supervision for life in cases involving:
- Engaging in sexual conduct with a child
- Causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act to create child pornography
- Photographing a child engaged in a prohibited sexual act
- Distributing child pornography (or possessing child pornography with the intent to distribute)
- Storing, maintaining or using a file-sharing program to access depictions of child sexual exploitation or abuse
- Possessing 1,000 or more items of child pornography
- Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct
- Attempt to commit any of the above
KidnappingA kidnapping conviction can also lead to parole supervision for life in certain circumstances. Specifically, New Jersey law provides for parole supervision for life in cases involving convictions under Section 2C:13-1.c(2) of the New Jersey Revised Statutes, which applies when the victim is less than 16 years old and the crime involves certain sex crimes (or attempted sex crimes) or the sale of the child for monetary gain.
LuringThe crime of luring is defined in Section 2C:13-6 and Section 2C:13-7 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes. Section 2C:13-6 applies in cases involving child victims, while Section 2C:13-7 applies in cases involving victims who are adults.
Attempt to Commit Any of the AboveIn addition to facing parole supervision for life upon conviction of the crimes listed above, defendants in New Jersey can also face parole supervision for life if they are convicted of attempting to commit any of these crimes. As a result, when defending against these charges, it is essential to keep New Jersey’s criminal attempt statute in mind. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to build a comprehensive defense strategy focused on protecting you against all risks of conviction.
While many of these are first and second-degree indictable offenses that carry the potential for a decade or more behind bars (with a requirement to serve at least 85 percent of your sentence prior to parole eligibility), if you are convicted, you will eventually be eligible for parole and being subject to parole supervision for life can drastically impact your life well beyond your term of imprisonment. If you violate the terms of your parole, you can be charged with a third-degree indictable offense and face an additional three to five years behind bars. Furthermore, incarceration is mandatory for violations of parole supervision for life, “unless the court is clearly convinced that the interests of justice so far outweigh the need to deter this conduct and the interest in public safety that a sentence to imprisonment would be a manifest injustice.”
Terms of Parole Supervision for Life
When you are subject to parole supervision for life, you will be closely scrutinized in all aspects of your life and you will need to seek approval to do things that most people take for granted. The terms of parole supervision for life can include:
- Having to regularly report to a parole officer for life
- Needing to obtain permission to move to a new residence
- Needing to obtain permission before accepting a new job
- Needing to obtain permission to use the Internet (or a device with Internet connectivity)
- Being subject to searches of your belongings, car and residence for cause
- Possibly being listed as a Megan’s Law offender on the internet if you are a Tier 2 or 3 offender, and everyone in your neighborhood being informed with leaflets of your picture, address, and conviction if you are a Tier 3 offender.
- Possibly having to comply with a daily curfew.
- Being subject to unannounced visits from your parole officer (to confirm that you are complying with your curfew and the other terms of your parole)
- Being required to immediately notify your parole officer if you lose your job, if you get arrested, if someone files a complaint against you, if you receive a summons, or if you receive a restraining order
- Possibly being prohibited from contacting the victim of your offense, and potentially other individuals as well
- Being unable to own or possess a gun or any other weapons
- Needing to obtain permission to travel outside of New Jersey
- Submitting to annual polygraph tests
- Submitting to drug and alcohol testing
- Submitting to counseling, psychological exams, and medical exams
- Possibly participating in counseling and treatment programs
What Happens if You Violate the Terms of Your Parole Supervision for Life?
As discussed above, violating the terms of your parole supervision for life puts you at risk for prison time. If you are on parole supervision for life for a crime committed on or after July 1, 2014, violating the terms of your parole is a third-degree indictable offense. If you committed your crime before July 1, 2014, then violating the terms of your parole is a fourth-degree indictable offense. Third-degree offenses carry three to five years of prison time (plus a $15,000 fine), while fourth-degree offenses carry up to 18 months of prison time (plus a $10,000 fine).
In addition, if you are serving a special sentence of parole supervision for life and are convicted of another violent crime enumerated in the statute, then you shall be sentenced to an extended term of imprisonment, which term shall be served in its entirety prior to the person's resumption of the term of parole supervision for life.
Just like other crimes, prosecutors have to prove that you violated the terms of your parole beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, you can—and should—defend yourself, and there are a variety of defense strategies an experienced lawyer may be able to use to protect you.
To prove that you violated the terms of your parole supervision for life, prosecutors must establish three key elements:
- You Were Subject to Parole Supervision for Life – This element is usually fairly easy for prosecutors to prove. There will be court documentation of your parole, and if you weren’t on parole, they wouldn’t be accusing you of a parole violation.
- You Knowingly Violated the Terms of Your Parole – If you inadvertently violated the terms of your parole supervision for life, this does not warrant prison time. Prosecutors must prove that you knowingly committed the violation in question.
- You Lacked “Good Cause” for the Violation – Finally, prosecutors must prove that you lacked “good cause” for violating the terms of your parole supervision for life. While “good cause” doesn’t have a precise definition, the judge will generally be looking for evidence that you had a substantial reason that affords a legal excuse for the failure to abide by for your violation.
Defending against a parole violation can involve challenging the prosecution’s evidence that you acted knowingly or proving that you had “good cause” for the violation in question. It can also involve arguing your constitutional rights in order to keep illegally obtained evidence out of your case. You may have other defense options as well. To determine how best to approach your defense, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Release from Parole Supervision for Life
It is possible to petition the court for release from parole supervision for life, but only once 15 years have passed since your most recent conviction or release from incarceration. In order to obtain a release, you must also be able to present “clear and convicting” evidence (as determined by the court) that you are not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.
Speak With a New Jersey Criminal Lawyer About Your Case
Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. is a New Jersey criminal defense law firm that provides vigorous and aggressive legal representation for individuals charged with sexual assault and other sex-related offenses. If you are facing the possibility of long-term imprisonment and parole supervision for life, our New Jersey criminal lawyer can fight to protect your freedom and your future. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our highly-experienced criminal defense lawyers, call 1-877-435-6371 or request a consultation online now.