Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down its decision in Matter of Registrant HD/Matter of Registrant JM. This decision is important for anyone seeking relief from their Megan’s Law and/or CSL/PSL obligations.
One of the requirements for relief from Megan’s and CSL/PSL is that the defendant must have remained offense-free for fifteen years from the date of their conviction (typically the date of their sentence), or from the date that they were released from custody, whichever is later. The question before the Court was whether HD and JM, each of whom committed new offenses during their fifteen-year period but then remained offense free for fifteen years from then, could be taken off Megan’s. Put somewhat differently, the Court was asked to determine whether the new offense(s) causes the fifteen-year clock to start to run again, or if it bars these defendants from seeking relief because they each committed a new offense within the initial fifteen-year period. The Appellate Division had found that the new offense had started the fifteen-year period to commence again and that the defendants were therefore eligible for relief because they remained offense-free for another fifteen years following the subsequent offense. In light of a thorough analysis of the relevant statutes, the Supreme Court reversed. Thus, an offense committed within the fifteen-year period will bar relief.
We firmly believe that these statutes are onerous, needlessly burdensome, and counterproductive insofar as they actually prevent defendants from starting life again as positive and productive citizens. Additionally, and so far as we know, there is no empirical date which demonstrates that anyone actually benefits from Megan’s Law and CSL/PSL. There is no proof that it really makes communities safer. However, and given the number of people who consult with and retain us on these issues, and in light of this new decision, we believe this is a good time to review the basic criteria for removal. Continue reading ›