Endangering Welfare of Children, N.J.S.A. 2c:24-4a
Under New Jersey law, any person who engages in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of a child is guilty of a crime.1 Thus, the law requires the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The victim was a child.
- Defendant knowingly engaged in sexual conduct with the victim, which would impair or debauch the morals of a child.
The first element the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is the victim was a child. A “child” means any person under the age of eighteen (18) years at the time of the offense. Indeed, the State must prove only the age of the victim at the time of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In a strange twist on statutory interpretation, however, it does not have to prove that defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was under the age of eighteen (18).
The second element the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is the defendant knowingly engaged in sexual conduct. Sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child is conduct which tends to corrupt, mar, or spoil the morals of a child under eighteen (18) years of age. But the State does not have to show the sexual conduct actually impaired or debauched the morals of the victim.
South Jersey Criminal Attorney Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Indeed, a charge of Endangering Welfare of Children calls for an aggressive defense, and Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations for all such cases. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.
1 N.J.S.A. 2c:24-4a.