Articles Posted in Sex Offenders

If you are required to register as a sex offender, there are certain rules and procedures you need to remember at all times.  Failure to register properly can result in a charge for an indictable offense.  If you are charged and convicted, you may never be relieved of your registration and supervision obligations, even if you meet all of the other requirements.  As New Jersey Megan’s Law attorneys, we are fully familiar with these obligations, and frequently defend those accused of violating them.  What follows is a brief summary of some of the more common registration procedures and issues.  Since every case is different, a Megan’s Law lawyer in New Jersey should be consulted concerning unique issues and situations.

As a general rule, registration involves notifying the local police department that the offender resides, or intends to reside, in that municipality.  Offenders who have been incarcerated must register prior to their release.  If a New Jersey offender works or goes to school out of State but still resides in New Jersey, they are still required to register in the State where they work or go to school, following all non-resident registration procedures.  Offenders who come to New Jersey from other States must notify the police department, or the New Jersey State Police, where they are going to reside within 10 days of arriving here.  This time frame also applies to offenders who are moving to another municipality.  Like offenders moving to New Jersey from another State, they have 10 days to notify the local police department that they now live there.

Offenders must re-register and verify their address with the local police department on an annual basis.  The time frame for this requirement is measured from the date of the offender’s initial registration or most recent re-registration resulting from a change of address, and not from the date that the offender first appeared at the police department to verify their address.  If the offender was found to be repetitive and compulsive and served a sentenced at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel (“ADTC”), they must verify their address with local law enforcement every 90 days. Continue reading ›

One of the basic criteria for being relieved of Megan’s Law registration and Parole Supervision for Life requirements is that the movant must have remained offense-free and conviction-free for 15 years from the date of their conviction or the date of release from a State prison facility, whichever is later.  As we have discussed in prior blog entries and on our firm’s website, there is a crucial difference in the wording of the statutes containing this requirement.  The Megan’s Law statute states that the movant must not have “committed an offense” within this 15-year period, while the Parole Supervision for Life statutes says that the movant must not have “committed a crime” during that time.  Arguably, this may mean that someone who was charged with an offense but not convicted of a crime during the relevant time period can be removed from parole supervision, but can still be required to register under Megan’s Law.  It is actually not all that unusual for someone to be removed from PSL, but still be required to register under Megan’s Law.  A Megan’s Law attorney in New Jersey can discuss these distinctions with you in greater detail.

We are Parole Supervision for Life lawyers in New Jersey who represent clients seeking to be removed from these burdensome regimens.  We therefore stay on top of all of the latest developments in the law concerning these issues.  A recent appellate court decision discussed an important issue for individuals who may have encountered problems while on parole supervision, and are now trying to have their registration and supervision obligations terminated.

Many individuals who consult with us concerning a termination motion do not have conventional criminal charges or convictions in any court at any time during the 15-year period.  They have, however, violated their parole and have incurred parole violations.  If the person is adjudicated guilty of a parole violation, their parole may be revoked and they can be required to serve a prison term of at least twelve months.  As New Jersey parole violation attorneys, we frequently represent such clients in violation hearings before the parole board. Continue reading ›

One of the first major events following conviction for a Megan’s Law offense is the assignment of a Megan’s Law tier.  There are three tiers, one for “low”; two for “moderate”, and three for “high”.  The tier score is based upon an assessment of the defendant using the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale or RRAS.  The purpose of the tiering is to assess the defendant’s risk of engaging in sexually inappropriate behaviors in the future.  The tier classification is important because it will set the level of notification of the defendant’s presence in the community where they live.  Generally speaking, defendants in the moderate or high tier are viewed as presenting an increased risk of re-offending; thus, placement in these tiers can result in local institutions, such as schools, receiving notification of the defendant’s presence in the area.  It can also result in the defendant’s information being posted on the internet.  A Megan’s Law attorney in New Jersey can answer questions concerning a defendant’s tier assignment and notification.

The RRAS is far from perfect.  It was created in the 1990’s, based upon whatever information was then available concerning sex offenses and sex offenders.  Much more is currently known about defendants who have been convicted of these offenses as well as the overall functioning of the Megan’s Law registration system, but the RRAS has not really changed.  It appears to have value in determining an individual defendant’s risk level when they are sentenced, but has relatively little value in predicting long-term behavior.  This is significant, since the RRAS does not account for such crucial factors as the amount of time the defendant has remained offense-free while present in the community.  There is now considerable data to support the conclusion that a defendant’s age and amount of time living in the community with no new charges correlates with a reduced risk of re-offense.  Thus, the value of the RRAS as a predictive tool is somewhat limited.

Nevertheless, New Jersey continues to use the RRAS to assess risk of re-offense and the corresponding level of community notification, and a defendant’s scoring is of great concern.  The scoring is based upon thirteen factors divided into four areas.  The first is “seriousness of offense”, which includes the degree of force used; the degree of contact; and the victim’s age.  The next area concerns the defendant’s “offense history”, which includes victim selection; number of offenses or victims; the duration of the offense behavior; the length of time since the defendant’s last offense; and the defendant’s history of anti-social acts.  The third area concerns “offender characteristics”, and includes the defendant’s response to sex offender treatment; and the defendant’s substance abuse history.  The final area focuses on “community support”, and includes therapeutic support; residential support; and employment or education stability.  The defendant is scored in each of these 13 areas and the points are then totaled up.  A score of 0 to 36 places the defendant in the low tier.  A score of 37 to 73 places the defendant in the moderate tier.  A score of 74 to 111 places the defendant in the high tier.  Some of these factors are “static”, which means the scores will never change.  Others are considered “dynamic” factors, which can be reduced with supporting information.  A Megan’s Law attorney in New Jersey can tell you if your score, and your tiering, can be reduced, thereby placing you in a lower tier with less extensive notification.

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We are New Jersey Megan’s Law lawyers who frequently prepare, file and argue motions for termination of Megan’s Law registration obligations, as well as termination of parole supervision for life or community supervision for life requirements.  As parole supervision for life lawyers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, we represent clients in every New Jersey county who are seeking to bring their registration and supervision nightmares to an end.  We also monitor the most recent developments in this area of the law, so as to always be aware of current trends and issues.

The basic requirements for termination of Megan’s Law and parole supervision for life are fairly straight-forward, at least on the surface.  Generally speaking, those seeking termination of their Megan’s Law registration requirement must satisfy three criteria.  First, the applicant must not have been convicted of aggravated sexual assault, or sexual assault involving force or coercion.  Next, at least 15 years must have transpired since the later of the date of the applicant’s conviction (measured from the date of sentencing), or date of release from prison, and the applicant must have remained offense-free during that 15-year period.  Finally, the applicant must be able to show that they are not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.  This last showing is made by means of a psychological evaluation that is submitted with the motion papers.    The evaluation is prepared by a forensic psychologist who is specifically trained to do this work, and can prepare a report designed to satisfy the concerns of judges and prosecutors.  An experienced Megan’s Law attorney in New Jersey can tell you if you meet these criteria given the facts and circumstances of your unique situation.

The requirements for terminating parole supervision for life are similar.  The applicant must be able to show that they have not committed a crime during the 15-year period described above, and must also show that they will not be a danger to the community if they are released from parole supervision.  A parole supervision for life attorney in New Jersey can explain how these criteria apply to your case.

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Many people contact our firm to learn about terminating their obligations under Megan’s Law and Community Supervision for Life or Parole Supervision for Life (CSL/PSL).  We are known throughout the State for representing clients seeking termination of these burdensome, and frequently useless, obligations.  There is information on the firm’s website concerning the criteria for terminating these incredibly burdensome requirements, which we encourage all those viewing us online to read.  However, if you are saddled with Megan’s and CSL or PSL obligations, and you are tired of the ways they are forcing you to place your life on hold, we encourage you to continue reading.  The information below, as well as that on our main site, is very general and should be viewed only as a starting point.  It is, however, a good place to begin.  Bear in mind, however, that you must contact a seasoned Megan’s Law attorney in New Jersey for counseling and advice that meets your unique needs.

It’s hard to believe, but the nightmares that are Megan’s Law and CSL/PSL have been around since 1994.  For one thing, this means that the number of defendants who are eligible to have their obligations terminated is growing.  One would think that given the amount of time these laws have been in effect, there would have been some sort of study or review concerning their effectiveness.  To this writer’s knowledge, however, no such study has ever been produced or even attempted.  This is significant not only because of the truly detrimental effect these statutes have on people’s lives, but because the registration and supervision systems cost money to administer and sap State resources that may be put to better use elsewhere.

In any event, every termination motion starts with information.  Each county prosecutor’s office has a Megan’s Law unit.  The first step Megan’s Law counsel must take after meeting with the registrant/parolee is to contact that unit to obtain a copy of the relevant discovery.  If someone was convicted in one New Jersey county but has since moved to another New Jersey county, the correct office to contact is the one in the county where the registrant/parolee currently resides.  A termination motion must also be filed in the county of residence, not the county of conviction.  A registrant/parolee who has moved out of State must obtain their discovery and file their motion in the New Jersey county of conviction.  Once obtained, the discovery must then be reviewed by a New Jersey parole supervision for life attorney to ascertain whether all relevant requirements for termination are met, and for information that must be included in the motion papers.

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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 ›

We receive many inquiries from defendants who are currently required to register pursuant to Megan’s Law, and are on Community Supervision for Life or Parole Supervision for Life, about termination of their overly burdensome and needlessly restrictive obligations. In light of a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, we believe that this may be a good time to review some of the basics of a successful termination motion.

Briefly, people who are saddled with Megan’s and lifetime supervision requirements can apply for relief under the following circumstances, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f). First, the application may not be made for at least 15 years from the date of conviction or release from custody, whichever is later. Next, the applicant must be able to show that they were offense-free during that time period. Finally, the applicant must be able to show that they are not a threat to the safety of others. This last requirement is typically satisfied by submitting a written evaluation from a forensic psychologist along with the motion papers.

However, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(g), certain defendants are not eligible for relief. These include defendants with more than one sex offense, or defendants convicted of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault as defined in the State’s criminal code.

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Effective January 1, 2017, Missouri sex offenders guilty of 13 different sex crimes based on acts committed on or after August 28, 2006, are subject to additional security requirements.  They will be required to wear GPS monitoring devices for the rest of their lives.  This includes defendants who were sentenced before this requirement was enacted.  This raises two important issues.  First, many of these defendants resolved their cases prior to the first of this year, and this requirement was not included in their original plea arrangement or sentence.  Additionally, it makes daily functioning in the community as a convicted sex offender that much more onerous and burdensome.  Both of these issues require careful consideration.

The GPS devices at issue alert authorities if an offender “lingers” near a school or park.  When the device activates, the defendant receives directions from a state official to, for example, report immediately to a probation officer.  The devices are also waterproof, and will alert the authorities if a defendant attempts to remove it.  The new rules affect hundreds of sex offenders throughout the state.

The first problem that the implementation of this GPS monitoring technology raises is that it was not contemplated by plea deals agreed to, or sentences imposed, prior to January 1, 2017.  Defendants who resolved their cases prior to the implementation date agreed to plead guilty based upon certain stated terms and conditions, all of which were presumably included in the records of their cases.  At sentencing, the court imposed certain terms and conditions of supervision with which they had to comply prospectively.  They were presumably advised by competent counsel, received notice of all of the requirements of community supervision, and consented to them in connection with the disposition of their cases.  In short, they knew the deal, and consented to it.  Now, after the fact, the rules are being changed with the addition of new, burdensome requirements that are apparently permanent.  How the terms and conditions of a plea arrangement or sentence can be so altered with no discussion or debate runs roughshod over basic concepts of due process, as well as fairness and decency. Continue reading ›

We have commented previously upon Megan’s Law and Community Supervision for Life (“CSL”), now known as Parole Supervision for Life (“PSL”).  The two ongoing problems with the regime that these laws create for the supervision of sex offenders still exist.  First, there is little, if any, empirical evidence that the laws accomplish anything positive, which is particularly troublesome in light of the substantial administrative costs they generate, which are borne by the taxpayers.  Further, these laws are fundamentally unfair.  They stem from a belief that the best way to manage sex offenders is to have them live in the community subject to terms and conditions of supervision.  However, at the same time, many of the terms and conditions pursuant to which they must conduct themselves are so burdensome that they make life incredibly difficult, and the parole officers who supervise them frequently act in a manner that can only be described as sadistic.  The end result is that parolees are whipsawed – they are directed to live in the community, but their daily lives are made almost impossible by unreasonable restrictions and abusive parole officers.

We can all agree that Internet access is a staple of modern life.  Imagine life with restricted Internet use or, worse, a complete ban.  Internet usage by sex offenders is frequently regulated by the terms and conditions of their parole supervision.  In many cases, those restrictions go far beyond what is necessary to manage a parolee’s conduct in a way that ostensibly protects the community and satisfies other necessary goals.  On March 21, 2017, our Supreme Court decided JI v. New Jersey State Parole Board, which addresses this problem.  The JI Court considered two issues: whether a total ban on a parolee’s internet usage is so overbroad that it serves no meaningful purpose, and whether the parole board must grant the parolee a hearing to challenge those restrictions.

JI, a sex offender, was sentenced to, among other things, CSL in 2003.  Upon release from custody in 2009, the parole board prohibited him from accessing social networking sites or chat rooms.  In 2010, it was discovered that he had visited websites that depicted child pornography.  He was not charged with violating his parole, but his sex offender treatment provider opined that the viewing of this material would not further his rehabilitation.  The board then prohibited him from using any device that could access the Internet.  Later in 2010, he was arrested for possessing a phone with which he accessed the Internet, and a board panel found him guilty of violating his terms and conditions of supervision.  He was imprisoned in 2011, and released in 2012. Continue reading ›

Megan’s Law provides that registrants who have not re-offended within 15 years of their conviction or release from custody, whichever is later, and are unlikely to pose a safety threat to others, can be relieved of their registration and reporting obligations.  Given the burdens of Megan’s Law and the restrictions it places on many aspects of daily living, many registrants “watch the clock”, with an eye toward moving for a court order relieving them of their obligations as promptly as possible.  A recent New Jersey Supreme Court case has, however, made it more difficult to succeed on such a motion.

In the Matter of AD, JB and CM was decided on February 7, 2017.  The case involved three registrants who sought relief from their Megan’s requirements.  AD was convicted of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, which triggered Megan’s Law reporting and registration obligations.  He moved to be relieved of these restrictions 15 years after his conviction.  Initially, his motion was unopposed, and was apparently successful.  However, while on supervision, he had been convicted of violating a condition of his Megan’s sentence by not notifying his parole officer of a change of address.  The State eventually learned of this and sought reconsideration of the Court’s Order removing him from Megan’s.  AD’s argued that his application should be granted because the offense he committed was not a sex offense, but this was rejected.  Similarly, JB was convicted of second-degree sexual assault.  During his term of supervision, he failed to notify law enforcement of a change of address and, as a result, ultimately pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree offense.  This charge and guilty plea ultimately resulted in the denial of his application to be relieved of registration and reporting requirements.  The Court rejected his argument that the offense he pleaded guilty to during his term of supervision should not bar his application because it was not a sex offense.  Finally, CM pleaded guilty to third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and was required to comply with Megan’s Law.  He later applied to terminate his Megan’s obligations, but this application was denied because he violated a final restraining order during his term of Megan’s supervision.  Once again, the trial court rejected the argument that this offense was irrelevant because it was not a sex offense.

The issue before the Supreme Court in each of these cases was whether the term “offense” as used in the relevant provision of the registration and reporting statute referred only to a sex offense, or to a broader category of activities that included crimes, disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses.  Put somewhat differently, did the term “offense” in the registration statute mean sex offense, or any criminal offense? Continue reading ›

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