Aggrevated Assault Negotiated Plea Guidelines Modified
On May 29, 2014, the New Jersey Legislature enacted Jessica Lunsford Law.
This Law requires any person charged with aggravated sexual assault involving a child under the age of 13 and any type of “penetration” to serve a mandatory minimum and a parole ineligibility of 25 years if they go to Trial and are convicted. The New Jersey Division of Law and Public Policy of the Attorney General’s Office issued guidelines to County prosecutors for the purpose of plea negotiations. These statewide policies and procedures were put in place to establish uniform plea negotiations for all aggravated sexual assault charges involving victims under the age of 13 and penetration only. They authorize the County prosecutor to engage in pretrial and pre-indictment plea negotiations with the interest of the victim in mind.
The guidelines allow for a downward departure of the 25 year period of parole ineligibility down to an absolute minimum period of parole ineligibility of 15 years. However, in order to arrive at the 15 years of parole ineligibility, the County prosecutor and the Attorney General’s office must be consulted, the interest of the victim has to be considered and the victim has to consent. The overall sentencing guidelines require a
25 year to life sentence with the 25 year period of parole ineligibility to begin. The only way the County prosecutor can go below the 25 year period is with the consent of the victim and the Attorney General’s in a pre-indictment plea negotiation. If a defendant rejects a pre-indictment negotiation offer, there is a step up procedure where the prosecutor must add three years of parole ineligibility at every step. Once the defendant is indicted the mandatory minimum period of ineligibility must be 18 years.