Arrested for Failure to Register under Megan’s Law in New Jersey
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – NJ Lawyer Help Defending Your Case
If you are convicted of a sex crime in New Jersey you may or may not be required to register under Megan’s Law. If you are, and fail to do so, this is a 3rd degree charge in addition to what your original crime was. You will be facing an additional 3-5 years in New Jersey state prison.
You have already done your time for a sex offense conviction, so you may think your debt to society is complete. However, your obligation to register as a sex offender is also part of your legal obligations. You may not want to return to prison for failing to comply with the other punishment phase, community policing. New Jersey law enforcement maintains the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry, continually adding names of those required to register. If this applies to you, you should know how and when to register under New Jersey law to avoid further legal trouble.
Failure to Register or Report Charge in NJ Explained
The idea behind sex offender registration is to alert law enforcement of a sex offender’s location. In other words, registering with local enforcement helps track sex offenders and sometimes alerts the public of their location. The likelihood that an offender in the community will commit further offenses, and other pertinent factors specific to the individual and their case, determine how much the public knows about the offender’s personal information. Registration is mandatory for sex-related criminal convictions, such as sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The crimes requiring registration involve some degree of physical and psycho-emotional violence on adults and minors. Aggravated criminal sexual contact, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and criminal restraint apply to adults and children in situations of confinement or unconsented to sexual contact, regardless of who is inappropriately touched, the perpetrator or victim.
By New Jersey law, minors under 16 cannot consent to sexual contact or intercourse, except for two minors fewer than four years apart engaging in sexual behaviors. Therefore, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct by debauching the morals of a child or engaging or exposing a child in or to pornography or prostitution, luring, and criminal sexual contact with a minor are serious crimes regardless of the child’s cooperation. A conviction for any of these charges will get you a sentence that includes mandatory sex offender registration according to Megan’s Law. Plus, failing to comply with the registration requirements exposes you to further criminal prosecution and yet another prison sentence.
Specifically, New Jersey punishes those required to register under what is commonly known as Megan’s Law with three to five years in prison under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 for failure to register, a third degree crime.
How Long do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender in New Jersey?
Under 2C:7-2, a sex offender has a specific number of days to register. That deadline varies for differently situated individuals. For example, inmates register before they leave prison or jail and then have two days to register with their local chief law enforcement officer, depending on where they live. Of course, not all convicted sex offenders are incarcerated. Some serve supervised sentences on probation, furlough, work release, or parole. These individuals register once placed under supervision, for example, by a probation or parole officer. Outside residents attending school, temporarily working in New Jersey, or relocating permanently to New Jersey have ten days from their arrival to register.
Moreover, every address change requires a registrant to notify the local chief law enforcement officer and re-register in the new location, with some having to periodically re-register regardless of a move. Periodic re-registration depends on whether the offender is assessed as having a high-level risk of reoffending due to repeated, compulsive behavior. Registration and re-registration come with strict deadlines.
What does the State of NJ Want to Know about Convicted Sex Offenders Required to Register?
Anyone convicted of specified sex offenses in 2C:7-2 by plea, jury verdict, delinquency adjudication for a juvenile sex offense, or insanity determination must fill out forms to register, listing their home and work (or school) addresses, vehicle and license plate number, a photograph and description, and offense details. Some must provide computer or electronic device access information.
The registration forms for sex offenders go to law enforcement but also to local prosecutors to assess a registrant’s likelihood of committing further crimes and risk to the community. To arrive at a high, moderate, or low-risk assessment, prosecutors consider various factors, including the nature of the crime, the offender’s responsiveness to treatment, their criminal record, and other factors to determine tier 1, 2, or 3 classifications. Each tier determines who and what law enforcement notifies the community.
When You are Subject to Megan’s Law, Who Gets Your Information in NJ?
All tiers require notification to law enforcement agencies. However, places where minors congregate, such as schools, summer camps, community organizations, and licensed daycare centers, receive information about tier 2 offenders in the community. Notification aims to protect minors from sexual predators. For tier 3 offenders, the rest of the public is added to the list of persons or places to notify for tier 2 offenders. Law enforcement or their agents or affiliates personally tell each household of a tier 3 offender’s presence in the community.
Notably, while a juvenile adjudicated a sex offender must register, their information is excluded from the Internet, except for tier 3 sex offenders. Tier 2 offenders whose victims were family or household members or whose crimes revolve around age, such as statutory rape, meaning the crime consisted of consensual sexual contact with a minor, are also not included on the Internet.
How to Fight a Failure to Register Charge in New Jersey
The obligation to register after each temporary or permanent move, annually or every three months, is lifelong or minimally 15 years without an offense before an offender can petition a court to terminate the registration requirement. Since failing to initially register, re-register, or notify law enforcement of relocation are all third degree crimes, it is critical to seek help from a talented New Jersey sex crime defense attorney when you are charged with failure to register or you mistakenly miss a deadline.
Look at the Circumstances
If you have not registered, or have been accused of failing to register, report, update your address, or inform that state of a recent change in your address or other mandatory reporting details in New Jersey, our experienced sex offense lawyers can deftly advise and zealously defend you. We need to look at the circumstances and see whether or not you actually did fail to register and comply with the statutes. If the state does have the evidence against you, our job is to keep you from going to jail.
Obtain a Lesser Sentence or Probation
In some cases, we can present your legitimate reasons for not registering to the prosecutor and judge on your case. Although you are responsible for knowing the law, and ignorance of or a mistake about the law is not a valid defense, you are human, and humans are fallible. While you may not be able to avoid penalties for violating the law, our lawyers can often persuade the prosecutor of your good intentions and mistaken beliefs about registration, which do not warrant a three-to-five-year prison sentence and a $15,000.00 fine. With our skills and experiencing handling cases like this, we can potentially negotiate a shorter jail sentence or probation, a more fitting punishment for the conduct. Also, a judge may give a lighter sentence after conviction when your intent was not to avoid your responsibilities but was an honest mistake.
Demonstrate that You Fully Complied with the Law
If the factors are in your favor, our accomplished lawyers can also point to errors or weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case to get your case dismissed for full compliance. When you registered as legally required, the prosecution has no case, and a dismissal is appropriate. Prosecutors, parole, probation, and law enforcement officers make mistakes. They also miscalculate the strength of their case before setting out to prosecute you based on flimsy evidence or inaccurate information. In these cases, when a prosecutor attempts to prove that you intentionally failed to register, but the truth lies in your version of the facts, that you intended to register but mistook the deadline, we may be able to defend and win the case. A dismissal of the failure to register as a sex offender charges against you means you go home, no additional conviction, no jail time.
Although life under registration requirements is difficult for privacy, public reproach, housing, and employment difficulties, the alternative is worse. Call our dedicated team of sex crime defense lawyers about failure to register charges and let us determine which defense approach best suits your case. We know that the state often likes to come down hard on convicted sex offenders, with or without a justifiable reason, and we can help. At The Tormey Law Firm, our team of former prosecutors, public defenders, and renowned criminal defense attorneys bring the full force of our knowledge, skills, and decades in courtrooms across New Jersey to defending our clients. Our goal, each time, every time, is to deliver the peak outcome. To receive a cost-free, confidential consultation, call us now at (201)-556-1570 or contact us online anytime, day or night.