NJ Sex Offenders Can Be Removed from Megan’s Law Monitoring
Megan’s Law was named for Megan Kanka, a New Jersey child who was raped and murdered by her neighbor. The law requires anyone convicted of a sex offense, or found not guilty of a sex offense by reason of insanity, to register their whereabouts with the police and to be subject to community supervision for the rest of their life. However, Megan’s Law also allows an offender to be removed from the registration and supervision requirements if they have not committed another offense within 15 years and can offer proof that they no longer pose a threat. A person who was younger than 14 when they committed an offense can also apply to be removed from restrictions once they turn 18.
What Is the Procedure for Megan’s Law Removal?
An attorney files a motion with a Superior Court judge. The prosecutor’s office may oppose the application. The judge may hold a hearing, which is closed to the public. Often the judge takes testimony from psychologists or other experts who have evaluated the offender and state their opinions as to the risk of threatening behavior. Factors taken into account include:
- The nature of the crime and degree of force used
- The age of the victim and the victim’s relationship to the offender
- The number of offenses committed
- Treatment undertaken by the offender
- Resolution of substance abuse problems
- The offender’s age and lifestyle
- The length of time the since the offender has committed the offense
Megan’s Law’s Removal: Success or Failure?
As of 2010, there were 13,612 sex offenders registered in New Jersey. The Public Defender’s Office was able to remove 18 offenders from the registry and two from community supervision; there were 19 unsuccessful attempts to get restrictions removed. Private attorneys have been successful in removing over 12 offenders from restrictions. Regarding such offenders, one attorney commented, “They are people who do something stupid without the proper forethought. People make mistakes.”
The Human Rights Watch group has stated that Megan’s Law is too broad and that the duration of time spent on the registry is too long. It noted that registered juveniles pose little or no risk of recidivism and that the law may leave them in an unstable and nonfunctioning position within the community.
Some, however, have been upset by the removal provisions. Maureen Kanka, Megan’s mother, has commented: “They should be on it for the rest of their lives. They cannot be rehabilitated.” Timothy Foley, a psychologist who has evaluated sex offenders, says that is a misconception. “Research has shown that if a sex offender goes for 10 years without reoffending, he poses a negligible risk. There are a small number who do it repetitively.”
Speak with an Experienced NJ Sex Crimes Lawyer about Megan’s Law Removal
Whether you believe that Megan’s Law is overbroad to begin with, or that some people who fall under its restrictions are entitled to prove that they have rehabilitated themselves, the law should (and does) offer a solution: narrow restrictions that provide procedures whereby those who are not the “worst of the worst” can, in fact, prove that they are not dangerous. If you believe you fall in this category, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to investigate your situation and to provide you with the legal relief to which you are entitled. Contact Travis J. Tormey by calling his Paramus or Morristown offices at (201)-330-4979, or use his online contact form to schedule a free consultation.