Sex Offender Assessment under Megan’s Law NJ
“In Woodbridge, New Jersey, the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center known as Avenel is a correctional facility for individuals that have been convicted of sex offenses. Pending sentencing for a sex crime, detention eligibility at Avenel is reliant, in part, upon the Defendant undergoing an Avenel Evaluation.”
There are certain sex crimes that allow for a Defendant to be eligible for an Avenel sentence. More specifically, these crimes include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child and/or leading a pornography network. Entry into Avenel depends on whether the Defendant falls within the purview of the New Jersey Sex Offender Act by engaging in repetitive and compulsive sexual conduct. In addition, the Defendant must also be amenable to and willing to participate in treatment.
The difference between an Avenel sentence and serving a regular sentence is with respect to parole eligibility and the intensive treatment component. A Defendant will likely have to complete a maximum sentence at Avenel, as opposed to the opportunity for parole. Additionally, the Defendant may be subject to indefinite civil commitment following the completion of an Avenel sentence, should continued treatment be deemed necessary.
What is an Avenel Evaluation in New Jersey?
The Avenel Evaluation is a psychosexual assessment performed by a qualified and licensed professional who proffers a narrative to the Court regarding the Defendant’s incarceration eligibility at the facility. During the interview, different aspects of the Defendant’s past, if applicable, and present sexual offenses are assessed to provide a recommendation/evaluation to the Court. Further, the Defendant is evaluated through the Static-99R test, which examines a Defendant’s sexual reoffense risk, Shipley-2, gaging the Defendant’s range of intellectual functioning, and other various assessments.
What Happens at the Avenel Facility in NJ?
Avenel houses well over 600 sex offenders and has over four dormitory housing units. Inmates are counseled by a range of therapists and attend various treatment programs throughout one’s stay at the facility. Inmates are classified from levels one through four, which are indicative of the offender’s treatment status. With the progression of each level, the inmate is given more latitude in jobs and supervision.
For an inmate to be released from the facility, one must receive recommendations from a variety of individuals that have witnessed the offender’s progress throughout the stay at the facility, a special review board and more. In cases where the offender is still considered a sexually violent predator, there may be an indefinite period of civil commitment where the individual becomes a resident of the Special Treatment Unit.
Following sentencing and parole requirements, what happens when an offender is released back into society after a sentence for a sex crime in NJ?
In instances where an offender has committed crimes related to aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, certain instances of kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child, luring or enticing a minor, and possibly false imprisonment, the offender will have to report under the notification requirements enacted by Megan’s Law. Depending on the crime and the prior criminal history of the offender, the community is made aware of his or her presence through certain criteria that places the offender in a specific tier.
More specifically, the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale was derived to assist with providing the community with notification standards in order to place an offender in a tier by the local Prosecutor’s office. The purpose of this scale is to show 1) empirical support for the tier designation 2) risk assessment criteria, and 3) numeric scales for scoring. Based on the scale, an offender can be classified as Low (Tier One), Moderate (Tier Two) or High (Tier Three) risk. The assessment incorporates statutory authority, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:7-6, to objectively measure the offender in order to obtain an unbiased scoring.
How is your Megan’s Law Tier Determined?
In essence, the assessment is comprehensive and views numerous factors. There are several criteria in particular within the assessment to measure relevant information that is used to determine the offender’s risk of re-offense and recidivism.
Risk of reoffending is determined by the seriousness of the offense, which is gauged by looking at the degree of force, the degree of contact, and the age of the victim. The next aspect of the scale evaluates intensity, duration and frequency of the sexual behavior by assessing victim selection, number of offenses/victims, duration of the offensive behavior, and length of time since last offense. Next looks at the offender’s lifestyle (history of anti-social activity), treatment (response, substance abuse) and at-home support (therapeutic, residential, employment, education). Each aspect of the assessment is an attempt to measure the risk and recidivism of an offender.
The offender’s tier designation determines the level of awareness the community receives about his or her presence/whereabouts in the area. For Tier One registrants, local law enforcement officials are made aware of the offender’s registration status. For Tier Two, in addition to law enforcement awareness, schools and facilities that have children and community organizations are also made aware of the offender’s presence in the community. For Tier Three, the offender must comply with the requirements of Tier Two, in addition to members of the public, and register on the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry. This registry is made available to the public online and essentially alerts the community that an individual is considered a compulsive and repetitive offender, in some cases this is also applicable for Tier Two Registrants.
If you think you were wrongly tiered for Megan’s Law, find out more about appealing your tier classification.
Facing an Avenel Sentence for a Sex Crime in NJ? Contact Us
Overall, it is extremely important to have a skilled attorney review your criminal history and tier placement, to ensure that you were assessed, sentenced, and tiered correctly. If you have been charged with any of the above sex crimes, it is also vital to seek help from an aggressive New Jersey sex crimes defense lawyer. Call The Tormey Law Firm today at (201)-556-1570. As always, the initial consultation is free of charge and entirely confidential.
New Jersey State Police Sex Offender Registry FAQ’s