Understanding marital sexual assault in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2023 | DIVORCE - Domestic Violence |

Sexual assault is a grave crime, and New Jersey laws do not give exceptions to married couples. The outdated and wrong belief that a spouse cannot commit sexual assault against their partner has no place here. In New Jersey, the crime of sexual assault applies to all relationships, including marriages.

The topic of marital sexual assault is sensitive and often misunderstood. New Jersey state laws value consent above all, and marital status does not remove the need for it.

Sexual assault defined

New Jersey defines sexual assault as any form of sexual penetration, however slight, without or beyond the other person’s consent. This definition applies to everyone. There must be an affirmative and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity, known as consent.

Laws about marital sexual assault

Many states used to have “marital rape exceptions” that protected spouses from sexual assault charges. New Jersey is not one of them. If a spouse does not or cannot give consent to a sexual act, it is sexual assault.

Demonstrating marital sexual assault

In all sexual assault cases, including marital ones, the prosecution must prove that the accused committed the alleged act without the person’s consent. Although the process can be complex and emotionally challenging, support is available.

Help for survivors

Resources exist for survivors of marital sexual assault in New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families operates a 24-hour hotline for survivors, and many local organizations offer counseling, shelter and other types of help.

Consequences for perpetrators

Those who commit marital sexual assault face serious legal consequences. Sexual assault is a second-degree crime, punishable by 5 to 10 years of imprisonment, fines or both. If there are aggravating factors, it may qualify as a first-degree crime.

New Jersey law is clear: No one, not even a spouse, can engage in sexual activity without the other person’s consent. Marital sexual assault is a serious crime with severe legal consequences. If you or someone you know is a survivor, remember help is available, and you have a right to safety and respect within your marriage.