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.