Sex crime convictions in New Jersey are often lifetime convictions. Not only does the convicted individual likely serve a prison term and pay fines, but they also are often required to register as a convicted sex offender under Megan’s Law. A 1994 law named after the murdered child victim of a sex crime, Megan’s Law requires sex offenders to register so the police can keep track of where they are and the public knows if a sex offender resides nearby. Megan’s killer lived across the street and had her parents known a sex offender lived nearby, Megan’s parents believe she might be alive today. The law set out to address that legal flaw. So, now that they are publicly named on New Jersey’s Sex Offender Registry or the Community Supervision for Life list, a convicted sex offender may be monitored for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, there are certain circumstances under which a person convicted of a sex crime and required to submit to continued Megan’s Law registration requirements can successfully request by motion to be removed from Megan’s Law in New Jersey, and thus end their mandatory sex offender reporting. Here’s what to know about Megan’s Law Removal in New Jersey and the process that must be followed if you are eligible to be removed.
Sex Offender Registration can Follow People Around for a Lifetime
Depending on which tier a convicted sex offender is assigned, the public may find the address, photo identifications, vehicle identity, and criminal convictions, such as sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, or endangering the welfare of a child, among other facts of the person, by a quick Internet search. Anyone can look up who published on the Registry is in the neighborhood so that a sex offender’s crimes follow them wherever they go. People can access the Registry in all 50 states, and the offender must notify law enforcement whenever they move, so they cannot escape public scrutiny and monitoring potentially for their lifetime.
Not all sex cases are alike either. Some may have made regrettable mistakes under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or mental disorders but otherwise have lived crime-free lives. People go through lows in their lives and make mistakes. But those same people recover, gather their lives up, and change for the better. Some others simply find themselves convicted of offenses based on the circumstances, particularly when age differences are a factor and the minor involved is unable to consent under the law. Unfortunately, Megan’s Law follows them into job interviews, housing applications, and university applications. The Registry makes it hard for someone to completely turn their life around. That is, unless a court grants their request to be removed from Megan’s Law requirements.
How to Get Off Megan’s Law List in New Jersey
Upon filing a motion with the superior court where the conviction occurred, a convicted sex offender may convince a judge to approve their request to terminate their Megan’s law obligations and be removed from the Registry. In their application, they must show that in the fifteen or more years since the conviction or completing a prison term for the crime, they have not committed an offense (N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f)). However, before filing, they must be sure they are eligible to be removed from Megan’s Law. Certain sex crime convictions, like aggravated sexual assault, disqualify an applicant from terminating Megan’s Law mandates. Nevertheless, if the applicant can prove they have a clean record for the fifteen years prior to their motion and that they pose no safety threat to others, the judge may approve the motion to terminate their obligations.
Supporting Evidence for Motion to be Removed from Megan’s Law in NJ
Of course, the applicant’s word regarding their safety to the public is not enough. They must submit an expert’s evaluation of their potential threat to others. In the report, the expert evaluates the applicant’s safety assessment in tiers of recidivism likelihood but also gives an overall opinion based on their interactions with the applicant and their expert knowledge in their field, say, in psychology and criminology. And any infraction, no matter how small, must not appear in the applicant’s criminal history for the requisite 15 years. Even a dismissal of criminal charges disqualifies the candidate.
Besides the sworn declaration of the applicant and an expert’s declaration, the applicant’s motion must contain documents to prove the claims they make. They should attach to their motion a copy of their conviction judgment, probation records, police reports, tiering documents, all records from their criminal case, or other documents that the judge will need to decide in their favor. Other helpful documents may include testimonials that support how an applicant has lived in the community in the 15 years since their release from prison or since the conviction for the offense, whichever is longer. Testimonials from employers, workmates, neighbors, friends, and others who know the applicant well may bolster the safety claim.
Special Rules for Juveniles Seeking to Terminate Sex Offender Registration Requirements in NJ
When a juvenile has committed a sex offense, they too must wait 15 years to apply for removal, unless they were younger than 14 when they committed the sex crime. In that case, the juvenile may apply once they are an adult, so long as they have committed no offenses in that gap between the offense conviction and application. Juvenile offenders may move a court to be removed from the Registry as an adult. Like adult offenders, they must show they have not committed any offenses since the conviction, but additionally, they must not have a conviction for serious sex offenses, such as aggravated sexual assault or multiple sex offenses. As for adult offenders, the process after filing the motion, with all the supporting documents, is quick, about thirty days.
While the decision takes about a month after the paperwork is filed, the motion, notice of motion, declarations, and other supporting documents may take longer to gather. You need someone on your side with the legal knowledge and prowess to successfully assist you in navigating the process of being removed from Megan’s Law in New Jersey with exceptional results.
Need an Attorney for Megan’s Law Removal in Middlesex County NJ
As anyone can see, a sex offense does not have to haunt you for the rest of your life if you qualify to be removed from Megan’s Law requirements. Since the courts require sufficient proof in court-approved format, your best efforts to get your motion approved may not succeed unless handled properly. Hire a seasoned sex crimes attorney who files these motions regularly and knows how to get your motion granted. It helps if your lawyer knows the court procedures and what can work in your favor when a judge decides such motions. It also helps to have an attorney with connections to the doctor experts you will need to support your application.
Ultimately, if you are seeking to get off sex offender registration and reporting in New Jersey, enlisting a sex crimes attorney who knows what facts to highlight and which to explain with reasons can help you produce the most successful motion to remove you from Megan’s Law list. A judge needs to be persuaded that a reformed community member can contribute to society without fear of harming anyone again. Your attorney can tell your story so that a judge will listen.
Contact our Middlesex County Megan’s Law Lawyers today at (732) 659-9600 for a free initial consultation. We can help you with one of the most important actions you will take to improve your life.