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Man serving 20 years in prison has conviction overturned

Being charged with a serious criminal offense such as a sex crime can be a scary moment in a person's life. While it may seem overwhelming or hopeless at the time, there are actually many arguments that can be raised to counter a charge or appeal a conviction. New Jersey readers may find the following story about a New Jersey man convicted of a criminal sexual assault charge and sentenced to serve 20 years in prison who later had his conviction overturned rather interesting.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently tossed out the conviction of a New Jersey man for sexual assault. The man was serving time in state prison for aggravated sexual assault following a 2007 attack in which an 18-year-old girl suffered fractures and bruises. After being found guilty of the crime, the man was sentenced to 20 years in state prison on the aggravated sexual assault charge and an additional seven years on aggravated assault charges.

Following his conviction, the man appealed his sentence based on the wording of the state's aggravated sexual assault statute. In a unanimous decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court found in favor of the defendant. In its ruling, the court stated that "words make a difference." Due to the poorly written statute, the defendant will now be resentenced on charges of second-degree sexual assault. The court's findings will likely result in a reduced sentence.

Challenging a conviction for a sex crime such as sexual misconduct on technical grounds is a common tool used by criminal defense attorneys. There are a variety of other defenses and challenges that can be raised in sex crime cases, as well. In addition to challenging the case after the fact on procedural or technical grounds, common defenses in sexual assault cases often include insanity or mental incapacity, consent, confusion and even mistaken identity. Given the stiff penalties possible in such cases, raising all potential defenses is a necessary step for all those accused of these serious crimes.

CBS Philly, "NJ Sex Assault Conviction Tossed Over Law Wording," April 29, 2013

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