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.
Some defendants are placed on Megan’s Law. Many defendants are placed on both Megan’s Law and community supervision for life or parole supervision for life. Those on Megan’s Law alone must register periodically with local law enforcement. Those subject to either CSL or PSL are supervised by a parole officer in addition to periodic registration. A request to terminate both sets of obligations (registration and supervision) can be made in the same motion. A New Jersey Megan’s Law attorney will understand which information must be included in the motion papers to terminate obligations under Megan’s Law alone, or under both Megan’s Law and CSL/PSL.
Generally speaking, there are three criteria that must be satisfied before termination may be granted. The first is the offense of conviction. Those convicted of certain serious offenses (e.g., aggravated sexual assault) are barred by the statutes from being terminated. An experienced parole supervision for life attorney in New Jersey can tell you if you are barred from seeking relief because of your offense of conviction. Those convicted of relatively less serious offenses such as endangering the welfare of a child may seek relief. The second element involves whether the registrant/parolee has been convicted of another offense since being sentenced in their original case. People seeking this relief must have remained offense-free for at least 15 years from their original conviction (date of sentencing) or release from prison, whichever is later, before they can request termination. A subsequent conviction does not have to be for a sex offense, but for any offense. Additionally, under current law, it’s “one and done” – the 15-year clock will not start to run again from the new offense. Rather, the new offense will bar the registrant/parolee from termination regardless of the amount of time that has passed since then. (Bear in mind, however, that if the person seeking termination was a juvenile who was less than 14 years of age at the time of the offense, they are eligible for termination at the age of 18. The 15-year requirement does not apply to them.) Finally, the registrant/parolee must be able to show that they are not a danger to the community. This is done by means of a psychological evaluation that must be prepared in connection with the motion and submitted with the moving papers. A parole supervision for life attorney in New Jersey can examine these criteria in light of your particular case and tell you if you satisfy them.
Once the moving papers are prepared, filed with the appropriate court and served on the appropriate prosecutor’s office, the State will have time to respond. These responses come in different forms. Sometimes, the State will not object and simply leave the final decision as to termination up to the Court. Sometimes, the State will object and the registrant/parolee’s Megan’s Law attorney must file a response. In any event, the Court will hold a hearing on the motion. If an objection was filed, the Court will require oral argument from the attorneys and, sometimes, witness testimony. The most common form of testimony comes from the psychologist who prepared the evaluation, and will focus on the issue of danger to the community. The Court will render the decision based on the content of the papers submitted by both sides, as well as issues raised at the hearing. If the motion is successful, the Court will enter an order terminating the obligations. (Incidentally, the motion will almost certainly not be heard by the judge who originally sentenced the registrant/parolee to Megan’s and CSL/PSL. Every county in New Jersey has an assigned Megan’s Law judge that reviews the papers, conducts the hearing and issues the final ruling.)
New Brunswick, New Jersey attorney James S. Friedman represents people throughout New Jersey who want to terminate their Megan’s Law and community supervision for life or parole supervision for life obligations. If you were sentenced to Megan’s and CSL/PSL, meet the criteria for termination, and have had enough and want out, contact Mr. Friedman for a consultation to discuss your situation and learn about your options.