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Law's wording wins New Jersey rape suspect second chance

Citizens need to be clear about their rights. They need to be clear about the statutes behind their arrests, criminal charges and sentencing if life puts them in such legal hardships. If people do not understand the laws that govern the land, how can they know if or when they are breaking them? How can they know if or when the system violates their rights?

A man who was convicted of sexual assault in New Jersey used words to defend his rights against an improper criminal sentence. His initial sentencing has been dismissed as a result of unclear wording of the law that got him charged and later convicted of aggravated sexual assault. The defendant's fight following his conviction could shave time off of his prison sentence.

Literally, the meaning of two words within the first-degree aggravated sexual assault statute create enough confusion for the defendant's appeal to be successful. The court has sent his case back down to the lower court in order for him to be sentenced based on a second-degree charge. All charges against him are not dismissed, but the lesser charge is still enough for the man to meet a fate that he is more prepared to meet.

Sometimes, it isn't a complete denial of guilt that gets a defendant the justice that he desires. Not all charges and convictions are created equal. Details are important to a person's future. Words are important and can mean the difference between an injust sentence and an ethical one.

Source: The Associated Press, "N.J. man convicted of sexual assault to receive new sentence, state Supreme Court rules," April 29, 2013

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