In wake of the violent sexual assault and murder of Megan Kanka, the New Jersey Legislature created an entirely new criminal scheme under the title “Megan’s Law”. The nuts and bolts of this legislation was to set up guidelines to insure that police and/or the public are aware of the presence of sex offenders. The way this is achieved is by imposing a mandatory registration requirement for those convicted of certain sex crimes, as well as guidelines for community notification of the presence of the sex offender. Megan’s Law obviously has the potential to dramatically impact an individual’s life and, as such, every effort should be undertaken to avoid a conviction resulting in registered sex offender status. At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Newark NJ, we have a defense team that possesses over 100 years of combined experience, and the skills you need to have the best opportunity of bypassing Megan’s Law. Call us 24/7 at 973-710-1520 for a free consultation with an experienced former prosecutor.
What Sex Offenses Trigger Megan’s Law?
N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 sets forth those individuals who are obligated to register under Megan’s Law. The sex offenses trigger an obligation to register as a sex offender:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
- Criminal Sexual Contact Involving A Victim That Is A Minor
- Endangering the Welfare Of A Child By Engaging In Sexual Conduct
- Promoting Prostitution Of A Minor
If you are convicted of one of these offenses, the extent of your registration and community notification will hinge on the results of a risk assessment and the risk “tier” to which you are assigned under Megan’s Law. The sentencing judge will determine the scope of the registration (e.g. quarterly, annually, etc.) and notification (e.g. inclusion in the internet registry, notification of groups and persons, such as neighbors, etc.) based your assigned tier. Failure to register as required by law results in a separate fourth degree crime.
How Is The Sex Offender Tier Determined?
An individual’s re-offense tier is assigned based on the results of a Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (“RRAS”). The RRAS is intended to provide a gauge as to the risk of re-offense, namely, whether the chance is low, moderate or high. Thirteen (13) factors are considered in this determination including: (1) degree of force used in the commission of the sex offense; (2) degree of contact; (3) age of victim; (4) how victim was selected; (5) number of offenses and victims; (6) duration of sexual behavior; (7) date of last offense; (8) history of anti-social behavior; (9) response to treatment; (10) whether there is a history of substance abuse; (11) therapeutic support; (12) residential support; and (13) employment/educational stability. Points are assigned depending on each of these factors and an individual with a total of less than 37 points falls within “low risk”, 37-73 points is “moderate risk” and more than 73 points is “high risk”.
When Do You Register as a Sex Offender?
An offender falling within the registration requirements of Megan’s Law must notify the chief of the local police department in which they reside within forty-eight (48) hours of release from incarceration. Offenders moving into New Jersey must notify the local police chief within ten (10) days of arrival.
What Community Notification Applies To A Convicted Sex Offender?
As previously stated, the extent of the community notification depends on the tier that is assigned. For tier one offenders, notification is limited to the local police department. If you fall within tier two, local police, schools and community organizations shall be notified. When the risk of re-offense is deemed to be high and results in a tier three assignment, police, schools, community organizations, as well as all members of the public likely to encounter the offender, must be notified.
When Is An Offender Placed On The New Jersey Internet Sex Offender Registry?
All tier three offenders are included in the registry. Tier two offenders are also included unless the sentencing court specifically provides otherwise. Tier one offenders are not included in the registry.
Is The Registration & Community Notification Permanent?
Certain offenses result in community supervision and notification for life and others do not. If an individual is eligible, he/she may apply for Removal from Megan’s Law provided the eligibility criteria are satisfied. An individual must wait at least fifteen (15) year from the date of conviction before they may be removed, as well as satisfy other requirements.
For assistance with your pending sex case or any Megan’s Law related matter, including removal and tier hearings, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today. Our firm can be reached 24/7 at 973-710-1520.