Court Reviewed Whether There Was A Kidnapping Under the Statute While A Sex Assault Occurred.

State v. Juan E. Cruz-Pena

Appellate Docket No.: A-3-19

Decided August 4, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Sex Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision, the Court reviewed whether there was a kidnapping under the statute while a sex assault occurred.

In State v. Cruz-Pena, defendant was charged in a multi-count indictment with first-degree kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b)(1); first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(6); second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12- 1(b)(1); third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(2); third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d); fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d); and first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1) and (2).

Defendant and another individual assaulted the victim, held her at knife point, and forced her to perform sexual acts for several hours before she was able to escape.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty to the charges of first-degree kidnapping; third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, a lesser offense of aggravated sexual assault; and third-degree aggravated assault. Defendant was acquitted on all other counts in the indictment. Defendant was sentenced to twenty-three years in state prison, subject to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, and on the aggravated criminal sexual contact and aggravated assault convictions to five-year prison terms, to run concurrent to each other and concurrent to the kidnapping sentence.

Defendant appealed, arguing he did not kidnap the victim for a “a substantial period” as defined by the statute. The Appellate Division agreed, reversing the conviction of the first degree kidnapping.  The State appealed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that the statute must be read in a sensible manner and not taken to an illogical conclusion.  The Court refused to view these circumstances as a kidnap “incidental” to the sexual crimes perpetrated against her.

If you have been charged with any first degree crime, second degree crime, third degree crime, fourth degree crime, disorderly persons offense, municipal ordinance violation, or traffic ticket / DUI/DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you the same result as the defendant in this case!

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us immediately. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any town in New Jersey including Alexandria, Bethlehem Township, Bloomsbury, Califon, Clinton, Clinton Township, Delaware Township, East Amwell Township, Flemington, Franklin Township, Frenchtown, Glen Gardner, Hampton, High Bridge, Holland Township, Kingwood Township, Lambertville, Lebanon Borough, Lebanon Township, Milford, Raritan Township, Readington Township, Stockton, Tewksbury, Union Township, and West Amwell Township.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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