Juvenile Sex Offenders in NJ Can Apply for Megan’s Law Removal, NJ Supreme Court Says
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous decision that juvenile sex offenders should not be prohibited from applying for removal from Megan’s Law registration for their lifetimes.
Since New Jersey passed Megan’s Law legislation in 1994, individuals convicted of certain sex crimes in New Jersey are required to register as sex offenders with the state. Depending on their assessed risk for re-offense, also known as recidivism, convicted sex offenders may have their information made available to the public on the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry.
Today, there are approximately 16,000 registered sex offenders in New Jersey. Among these individuals, approximately 4,300 are published in the Internet Registry because of convictions for the most egregious sex crimes, such as aggravated sexual assault. For adult sex offenders in NJ, some may be eligible to for removal from Megan’s Law fifteen years after their conviction, provided they do not commit another crime during that timeframe. However, there are certain sex offenders who are never eligible to be removed from Megan’s Law, as lifetime registration is a component of their sentence.
Juvenile Sex Offender Registration in NJ
For juveniles convicted of sex crimes prior to their 18 birthdays, Megan’s Law registration may also be required. In other words, a juvenile sex offender is subject to the same sex offender registration as an adult in many cases. Specifically, juveniles convicted of the following crimes must register under Megan’s Law in New Jersey:
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact
- Luring or enticing
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor
- Kidnapping a victim under age 16 with an attempted or committed sex crime
- Endangering the welfare of a child involving sexual conduct
- Criminal restraint; and
- False Imprisonment of a minor
Previously, juvenile sex offenders were also allowed to apply for de-registration after 15 years if they have not re-offended within 15 years of their sex crime conviction. Then, in 2001, New Jersey enacted provisions requiring certain juvenile sex offenders to register for their rest of their lives. Notably, juveniles who commit sex crimes before the age of 14 are eligible to apply for de-registration when they turn 18 if they have not committed another offense since their initial conviction.
Juvenile Megan’s Law Lifetime Requirements are Unconstitutional
After the recent case was brought before the New Jersey Supreme Court, the justices universally agreed that lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles adjudicated deliquent of sex crimes is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that such a permanent mandate violates a juvenile’s right to due process. In its decision, the Court stated:
“That irrebuttable presumption disregards any individual assessment of whether a particular registrant is likely to reoffend, long after the adjudication and long after the juvenile has become an adult…Those juveniles are, in effect, branded as irredeemable — at a point when their lives have barely begun and before their personalities are fully formed. They must carry this stigma even if they can prove that they pose no societal threat.”
The NJ Supreme Court effected its ruling by reinstating the prior provision that juvenile sex offenders can apply for removal from Megan’s Law after fifteen years with no re-offense. Justice Barry Albin explained the ruling, saying “Indeed, categorical lifetime notification and registration requirements may impede a juvenile’s rehabilitative efforts and stunt his ability to become a healthy and integrated adult member of society.”
This significant decision affirms the purpose of the juvenile justice system in New Jersey: to rehabilitate and reform juvenile offenders who commit crimes as minors. The process in the juvenile court system is structured to provide juveniles with a means by which to improve themselves and become positive contributors to society. Now, juveniles convicted of sex crimes are being provided with the same opportunities as their peers who commit criminal offenses that don’t involve sexual misconduct.
Want to Get Off Megan’s Law in New Jersey?
If you are a juvenile or adult seeking Megan’s Law Removal in New Jersey, The Tormey Law Firm can help. Our experienced sex crimes attorneys assist clients with criminal defense for sexual assault and similar charges, as well as applications for sex offender de-registration across the state. Contact us at (201)-556-1570 or send us an email for additional information about your eligibility and the process for Megan’s Law removal in NJ. Our lawyers will listen to your unique situation and answer all of your questions. We provide free consultations, so call today.
For additional information related to this case, access the following article: New Jersey Supreme Court allows juvenile sex offenders to get off Megan’s Law registry