What the Sayreville Football Scandal Means for NJ Lawmakers

Recent allegations of sexual assault at Sayreville High School have shaken the community and put pressure on lawmakers to take action. Whether or not the allegations against members of the Sayreville football team will result in new legislation is unclear. However, it could affect the way in which sex crimes and bullying cases are viewed by New Jersey lawmakers in the future.

Understanding the Case

Can Minors Be Tried as Adults in New Jersey?

Yes, minors can be tried as adults in New Jersey. In the case of the seven minors who have been charged with sexual assault, the prosecutor will have 30 days to decide whether he will pursue a waiver to try the football players as adults.

Minors (14-17 year olds) may be tried as adults for certain serious crimes, including sexual assault. The decision to try a minor as an adult is based on seriousness of the offense, a history of similar behavior, consulting with the victim’s family and various rehabilitation programs provided by juvenile court.

However, one of the biggest factors when deciding whether a minor will be tried as an adult is dictated by a 2012 NJ State Supreme Court ruling. The ruling stated that prosecutors must prove that trying a juvenile as an adult would be more likely to deter that person from committing crimes in the future.

What Are the Penalties?

If Convicted as a Juvenile

If the seven students are convicted as juveniles and not adults, the sentence for aggravated sexual assault will be no more than five years incarceration.

If Convicted as an Adult

If convicted in adult court, the sentence for aggravated sexual assault is up to 20 years in prison.

What Lawmakers Are Saying

“But where were the adults?” he asked. “How did they turn a blind eye to this? There is no way these coaches didn’t know this type of behavior was going on, and they all need to held accountable.”

-Stephen Sweeney, State Senate President

“I certainly don’t want to jump to conclusions and say there is going to be another law,” he said. “But I do think it’s something we have to monitor as the case unfolds. We have to make sure the state’s education system learns from this episode.”

-John Wisniewski, State Assemblyman

“If [the coach] didn’t know what was going on, he should have known,” said Lesniak, an attorney. “Based on what has come out, there needs to be a total housecleaning at the Sayreville athletic department.”

-Raymond Lesniak, State Senator

Villani & DeLuca criminal defense attorneys are available 24 hours a day every day of the year at 732-965-3350. We represent clients facing criminal charges throughout New Jersey.