There has been little activity in the state legislature regarding New Jersey’s version of the “Jessica Lunsford Act” since it was passed by the Senate early last month. If ultimately passed, this bill looks to impose a harsher mandatory 25 year sentence for New Jersey sex crime convictions.

Specifically, the bill – Senate Bill 380 – proposes mandating a prison sentence of 25 years to life for anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault involving someone under 13-years-old – with no eligibility for parole until the person serves at least 25 years.

It is important to note however, that the version of this bill originally proposed was much broader than the version currently being considered by lawmakers. In the prior version of the bill, several other criminal convictions fell under the purview of the mandatory 25 year sentence – with additional monitoring programs even being proposed.

Original Version of SB380

As introduced, SB380 had proposed the mandatory 25 year prison sentence for anyone convicted of first degree or aggravated sexual assault of a person under the age of 18 – whereas the current version being considered requires the involvement of a minor under the age of 13 to trigger the mandatory 25 sentence.

By comparison, under currently enacted New Jersey law, when an accused is convicted of a sexual assault of a person over the age of 16, but younger than 18, the crime is generally one in the second degree and only carries a sentence of five to 10 years – as opposed to the mandatory 25 year sentence which was originally proposed in the first version of SB380.

Moreover, the prior version of SB380 would have required global positioning system (GPS) monitoring for anyone charged with a New Jersey Megan’s Law offense with a person under the age of 18. Keep in mind that this provision would have required monitoring for anyone simply charged – a conviction would not have been required. The proposed monitoring would have been imposed at the time of bail and would have continued until the accused was acquitted or incarcerated.

As seems readily apparent, the first version of this bill was particularly strict for anyone even accused of various sex crimes in New Jersey – with harsher penalties being proposed for a wider variety of charges. And even though lawmakers have scaled back on these penalties to a large degree, the mandatory 25 year sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a person younger than 13 still indicates they are serious about increasing sex crime penalties in New Jersey.

Consequently, if you have been charged with a sex crime it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be advised of your rights and options.

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