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Sex Crimes Lawyers in NJ

Megan’s Law Tier Classification Appeal – Need Lawyer to Lower my Tier

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Lawyer Needed to Appeal my Tier Classification and Lower it in New Jersey

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Tier Classification Appeal

If you are convicted of a sex crime in New Jersey, you will be classified under Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law requires certain sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies and notify the community. The Prosecutor’s office completes a tier classification that puts a numeric value on the risk you pose to the community through a point system. Essentially, you are assessed based on the initial crime, where you’re living now, whether you’ve done any rehabilitation, etc. This point system approach translates to the level of notification required to the community by placing you into a specific tier.  In addition, the tier you fall into determines how the community is notified of your offenses.

The Prosecutor’s office determines point value by reviewing the seriousness of your offense, your offense history, characteristics, including response to treatment and/or substance abuse history, and community support related to education/employment, residential support and therapeutic support. This is done through the Registrant Risk Assessment (“RRAS”), which is comprised of four categories and assesses the registrant on thirteen criteria. The total score then places you in a tier that will determine the scope of public disclosure to those in the community and local law enforcement. More community disclosure occurs with the greater number.

Tier One is considered “low” risk and the score range is 0-36 points. If you have less than 37 points, this puts you at Tier 1 which is the best you can do. Tier Two is “moderate” risk and the score range is 37-73 points, based on your priors and circumstances of events. If you are over 73 points, you will be placed at tier 3 which is the highest classification under Megan’s Law. Tier Three is “high” risk and the requirements/notifications to the community are the most extensive.

If you believe that you have been wrongly tiered for purposes of Megan’s Law registration, call The Tormey Law Firm at (201)-556-1570 today. If you show us your classification, the points assessed based on the original crime and circumstances, we may be able to file a tier classification appeal. Our attorneys frequently assist clients with this process throughout New Jersey. Contact us for a free consultation about your unique situation.

Can You Challenge Your Tier Designation for Megan’s Law?

When challenging a tier designation in New Jersey, a registrant may argue that:

(1) the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS) score was erroneously calculated;

(2) the case falls outside the “heartland” of Megan’s Law cases; and/or

(3) the extent of community notification required is excessive due to “unique” aspects of the registrant’s case.

In re G.B. 147 N.J. 62, 85 (1996), In re T.T., 188 N.J. 321, 330 (2006). In presenting such a challenge, the registrant must introduce evidence showing the RRAS “did not accurately weigh certain factors” or “take into account certain peculiar factors” relevant in determining a registrant’s risk of re-offense. G.B., 147 N.J. at 82.  See also In re N.F., No. A-1387-16T1, 2018 WL 2924332 (App. Div. 2018).

Megan’s Law Tier Classification Appeals Process

An offender has a duty to register, while incarcerated offenders must register before release. In addition to that, the incarcerated offender shall also register with local and/or State police. Generally, a registrant is notified by their local Prosecutor’s Office about what tier he or she falls into by a letter and support for the tier designation through providing a copy of the filled out RRAS, a case summary and more.

If the registrant disagrees with the tier classification, he or she is given a short window to file notice of appeal, which is approximately 14 days. The appeal will take place in the Superior Court and the registrant must file notice within that applicable timeframe. During this appeal process, the registrant can object to the State’s current classification by submitting forms and setting forth reasons for the objection. The reasons for the objection, may include but are not limited to:

  • objection to the tier classification,
  • objection to the people and groups notified,
  • objection to the manner of notification, or
  • other objections depending on the case or reasons set forth by the State.

Later, there will be a date set for oral argument where it will be determined if the registrant has been properly classified or if the defense has made a strong enough showing that the classification was not correct based on the circumstances. One can expect the hearing to be one day or multiple days of testimony. It is entirely up to the facts, circumstances, and evidence related to the case to determine how long the hearing will be and how much will be presented at the hearing.

How does the Court Decide whether to Change what Tier I am in?

The RRAS is “only one possible consideration” of many in determining a registrant’s risk of re-offense. Id at 78. Although the RRAS is a “useful tool to help prosecutors and courts determine whether a registrant’s risk of re-offense is low, high, or moderate,” it is “not a scientific device.” In re C.A., 146 N.J. at 108. (emphasis added). “[I]t is impossible to create an all-inclusive scale,” and thus, “any classification based on the [RRAS] should not be viewed as absolute.” Id. at 109. Judicial determinations regarding tier classification and community notification should be made “on a case-by-case basis” within the discretion of the court and based on all of the evidence available, not simply by following the “numerical calculation provided by the [RRAS].” G.B., 147 N.J. at 78–79 (quoting C.A., 146 N.J. at 109).

Because registration and community notification under Megan’s Law have a significant impact upon a registrant’s personal liberties, a trial court must balance the registrant’s right to privacy against the community’s interest in safety and notification. In re Registrant G.B., 147 N.J. at 74 (1996).  Ultimately, “a value judgment” is required. Id. at 78 (citing C.A., 146 N.J. at 109).  The courts should not “blindly follow the numerical calculation provided by the Scale, but rather to enter the appropriate tier classification’ based on all of the evidence available to them.” Id. at 78 (quoting In re C.A., 146 N.J. at 109).

Contact a NJ Megan’s Law Tier Classification Appeal Attorney to Discuss Your Case

It is important for a person seeking to appeal their tier classification under Megan’s Law to have a skilled advocate representing his or her case. At The Tormey Law Firm, our lawyers present the facts of your case in a clear and convincing manner to the Court so that your classification can be properly evaluated and adjusted. Call us now at (201)-556-1570 so we can help you determine if you should appeal your Megan’s Law Tier Classification.

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