Under NJSA 2C:7-2(f), a Registrant can petition to be removed from Megan’s Law after 15 years if they have not committed a new offense, and they are found not to be a threat to the community. Prior to a recent Supreme Court ruling, if a registrant committed a subsequent offense after being placed on Megan’s Law, the 15 years time period would simply commence again after the subsequent new offense. However, in March of 2020, in State in the Interest of HD and JM, the Supreme Court ruled that the Registrant must remain completely offense free during the 15 year period in order to qualify for registrant relief commencing upon conviction, adjudication or release from confinement.
The procedural history of JM and HD are as follows. In 1994, J.M. pled guilty to third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and it 1997, H.D. pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. Both JM and HD were sentenced to probation and required to register as sex offenders. Subsequent to being placed on Megan’s Law, HD pled guilty to failure to register as a convicted sex offender in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(a) and (e). JM pled guilty in 2001 to a computer crime in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-29. Both were sentenced to probation and neither has been convicted of anything since those dates.
In 2017, after 15 years had passed they both filed for Removal from Megan’s Law Registration, and their motions were denied at the Superior Court level. They both appealed and the Appellate court reversed the State Court’s decision, determining that subsection(f) is ambiguous as to whether its requirement of fifteen years of offense-free conduct resets following an offender’s subsequent criminal conviction. The Supreme Court reversed the Appellate decision, which essentially means that JM and HD are now barred from removal from Megan’s Law.
In relevant part the Supreme Court found that the following language is clear: “Subsection (f), in turn, prescribes conditions under which registrants may seek to terminate their registration requirements:
Except as provided in subsection (g) of this section, a person required to register under this act may make application to the Superior Court of this State to terminate the obligation upon proof that the person has not committed an offense within 15 years following conviction or release from a correctional facility for anyterm of imprisonment imposed, whichever is later, andis not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.
[N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f) (emphases added).]
Reading subsection (f) as part of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2, we find its language unambiguous. It plainly refers to the conviction or release that triggers the registration requirement established in subsection (b) and detailed in subsection (c).”
The Supreme Court statutory analysis does not take into account the registrant’s rehabilitation and lack of threat to the community. This is simply a statutory analysis of the removal statute which places new restrictions on those already on Megan’s Law who thought they might be eligible for removal after a period of time and those in the future being placed on Megan’s Law.
This ruling means that a Registrant cannot be convicted or adjudicated after being put on Megan’s Law or they will be barred from removal. This ruling also applies to juvenile Registrants as well, meaning if a Registrant was adjudicated for a subsequent case they are barred from removal.
Call a New Jersey Megan’s Law Attorney
There are still some questions as to whether minor arrests such as ordinances or other minors offenses will qualify as barring removal and the implications that they may have on removal. If you think you are eligible for removal, Tara Breslow an experienced Megan’s Law removal attorney, can help you call 732 784 2880 or contact us.