Our firm regularly represents clients seeking to be relieved of their Megan’s Law registration and Community Supervision for Life (CSL) or Parole Supervision for Life (PSL) obligations. We therefore track the latest developments in this area of law, and report regularly on them to individuals who want to terminate these onerous and burdensome obligations.
The statutory requirements for relief are fairly straight forward. Generally speaking, as to both registration and supervision, the client must have gone 15 years from the date of their sentence or date of their release from State custody without any encounters with the criminal justice system. The 15-year period runs from the later of these two dates. The client must also be able to show that they are not a danger to the community, which is typically done with the submission of a psychological evaluation as part of the moving papers. There are also some additional requirements to be relieved of the Megan’s Law registration obligation. In cases that arose after January, 2002, the client must have no more than one conviction for a sex offense, and cannot have been convicted of certain offenses including aggravated sexual assault.
We recently wrote an article concerning the possible impact that parole violations may have on a client’s application for termination of these requirements. Parole violations (e.g., violations of the terms and conditions of supervision) can be disposed of in two ways. They can be the basis for a new criminal charge in the Superior Court, or they can be handled administratively by the parole board. If they result in a new criminal charge in the Superior Court, they will bar termination of the registration and supervision requirements because of the resulting criminal charge and conviction. Parole violations disposed of on the administrative level do not qualify as new convictions, and therefore should not bar termination. Clients should, however, bear in mind that a prosecutor may attempt to argue that parole violations should bar termination because they show that the client is a danger to the community.
Recently, some prosecutor’s offices have been objecting to termination motions based upon contrived requirements that are not required by statute or applicable court decisions. For example, in connection with the review of a motion, some prosecutor’s offices seek records from the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS)/Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) concerning any investigation that occurred in connection with the original case and charges. Such requests are completely inappropriate since DYFS/DCPP does not always launch an investigation in response to allegations of wrongful conduct, in which case there are no such records. However, because it can take months to determine whether there was an investigation and whether records even exist, this “tactic” needlessly delays the resolution of a motion concerning which a client is entitled to a prompt decision. Additionally, any records that might exist and can be recovered are at least 15 years old, and therefore not indicative of the client’s current status.
Some prosecutor’s offices are now questioning psychological evaluations that did not include “collateral” interviews. If the client lives with a spouse or other family member(s), they will insist that the evaluation include summaries of interviews with such individuals, ostensibly because the prosecutor is interested in how they “feel about” terminating the client’s registration and supervision obligations. There is certainly no legal basis for requiring input from these individuals in connection with a termination motion. Additionally, common sense dictates that a spouse or family member who lives with the client obviously does not view them as dangerous.
Finally, some prosecutor’s offices are asking clients to provide written proof of successful completion of any required counseling. This seems reasonable on the surface; however, such counseling was typically ordered by the Court, or mandated by parole as part of supervision. Both the Court and parole should have received proof directly from the individual or agency which provided the counseling that it was successfully completed. Put somewhat differently, it already exists in the Court or parole file. Moreover, if there was a problem with the counseling (e.g., failure to attend sessions; failure to comply with treatment recommendations, etc.), either the Court or parole would have been notified and a violation would have been filed. The fact that there was no violation, standing alone, should be sufficient to demonstrate successful completion of any required counseling.
A prosecutor’s office is not authorized to add to the burden of seeking relief from Megan’s Law and CSL/PSL. The foregoing requirements are mere strategies that are intended to make the termination process more difficult than it needs to be. Instead of inventing new requirements that have no legal basis, prosecutor’s should stick to determining whether the statutory requirements that have been put in place by the Legislature have been satisfied. Where these have been met, termination of registration and supervision should follow.
James S. Friedman, LLC represents individuals seeking to be relieved of their Megan’s Law registration and parole supervision requirements in all New Jersey counties. If you are subject to Megan’s Law or CSL/PSL, contact us to learn whether you can have these obligations terminated.