NJ Orders New Strict Directive for Sexual Assault Investigations

Amid multiple ongoing investigations connected to the manner in which Governor Phil Murphy’s transition team handled sexual assault allegations against a former staffer, the NJ Attorney General’s office has implemented several changes to the methods for investigating sexual assault cases. Specifically, on Tuesday, the NJ Attorney General’s office issued a directive which is meant to “strengthen and standardize” the way that law enforcement handles sexual assault cases.

The new rules require that local law enforcement officers MUST report all sexual assault incidents to the County Prosecutor’s Office within 24 hours where a prosecutor will then be assigned to review the case before making a final decision regarding charging the accused. Also, prosecutors are now also required to consult with sexual assault victims before concluding any plea negotiations and, when a prosecution will not go forward, prosecutors must provide the victim an opportunity to meet in person to discuss why.

NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal also updated the standard that is in place concerning the services provided to sexual assault victims. Specifically, victims have access to a sexual assault response team which consists of a trained advocate, a forensic nurse examiner and a law enforcement officer. The standard, which was last updated in 2004 is 93 pages long, and Grewal says that Prosecutors must follow these guidelines. The strict changes included in the directive are geared toward creating a more “victim-centric” approach to handling sexual assault investigations. Click here to read more at www.northjersey.com.

Being charged with sexual assault, a crime of the second degree in NJ, means exposure of up to 10 years in NJ State Prison, 85% of which must be served without the benefit of parole under the No Early Release Act (NERA).  Under certain circumstances (such as a victim’s age, the relationship between a victim and the accused, and the use of force during the assault), sexual assault can be considered “aggravated” sexual assault, which elevates the offense to a crime of the first degree in NJ.  That means exposure of up to 20 years in NJ State Prison, with the same requirement that 85% of the sentence be served without the benefit of parole – and in some rare cases, exposure of life imprisonment.  Any sexual assault conviction will also carry a host of collateral consequences including Megan’s Law registration, community supervision for life, and a mandatory psychosexual evaluation.  Having an experienced defense attorney means all the difference and is crucial when facing these serious charges. Former Morris County Prosecutor, Alissa D. Hascup is an experienced lawyer who has successfully handled sexual assault cases throughout in New Jersey. Contact her office today for a free consultation. She is available 24/7 at 862-257-1200.