Megan’s Law Sex Offender Attorneys in Toms River NJ
New Jersey has been at the forefront of sex offender registration for decades, ever since New Jersey resident Megan Kanka was sexually assaulted and murdered by her neighbor, a convicted sex offender who had not been required to register with law enforcement or inform his neighbors of his prior offense. A resulting legislative push, spearheaded by Megan’s parents and then by state and federal legislators, resulted in the adoption of Megan’s Law in New Jersey and in the passage of similar statutes across the United States. Under Megan’s Law, sex offenders must adhere to certain strict registration and notification requirements depending on the “risk tier” in which they are placed. While all of this is in service of the community, being convicted of a Megan’s law sex crime and being labeled a “sex offender” who is forced to register with the state interminably can have a devastating impact on your life. Megan’s Law sex offender registration leaves you with a heavy burden, not to mention that it can hinder your job opportunities, financial situation, and personal relationships. This is why it is imperative to know your rights when it comes to a Megan’s Law sex offense and your legal options if you are subject to registration. If you would like to discuss defense for a sexual offense, removal from Megan’s Law, or challenging your tier classification, contact our experienced Ocean County Megan’s Law Attorneys for a free consultation at (848) 238-2100. We have successfully handled many of these cases and can provide answers and highly effective representation specific to your case.
What is Megan’s Law?
There are many sex crimes subject to Megan’s Law registration in New Jersey, including endangering the welfare of a child (involving sexual contact with a minor), aggravated criminal sexual contact, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, as well as false imprisonment and kidnapping when it involves a sexual offense. If you have been convicted of a Megan’s Law eligible offense, you are generally required to register with your local police department immediately upon your release from incarceration. You must submit a registration form that includes your employer and address, along with other personal information. As the law stands today, Megan’s Law registration remains in effect for life.
What are the Tiers of Megan Law?
The details of your case will be reviewed before assigning you to one of three “risk tiers.” Each of these tiers comes with a different set of continuing requirements to which you must adhere indefinitely. The three tiers applicable to the Megan’s Law registration framework are as follows. Tier 1 offenders are categorized as having a low risk of re-offense. Tier 2 offenders are categorized as having a moderate risk of re-offense. Tier 3 offenders are considered to have a risk of re-offense; this is the highest risk tier used in New Jersey’s Megan’s Law framework. After you submit your registration form to local law enforcement, that information is forwarded to a county prosecutor. The prosecutor analyzes your likelihood of re-offense based on a Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS) or Juvenile Risk Assessment Scale and assigns you to a particular risk tier. Notably, you are entitled to have a hearing before your final tier classification. If you want to avoid being placed on the registry or obtain a lower tier assignment, you should consult and hire a knowledgeable attorney who knows how to handle the hearings and can argue in favor of your best interests at this hearing. Contact us to discuss how we can help with your hearing in Ocean County or elsewhere in New Jersey.
How do they Decide Your Tier Classification?
The RRAS scale examines 13 factors to evaluate your likelihood of re-offense. These factors include the degree of force used in committing the crime that led to your registration requirement, the age of the victim involved, the degree of contact you had with the victim, the relationship of the victim to you, the length of time involved in the course of the offense, the number of your offenses and victims, the length of time that has passed since your last offense, any history of anti-social behavior that you may have previously displayed, any history of substance abuse, your response to treatment in the past, your level of residential and/or therapeutic support, your employment prospects, and your educational history.
As you might imagine, more severe or prolonged behavior will correlate to a higher risk score on the RRAS or JRAS. If you committed offenses against a close family member for a long period of time, if you committed offenses, using force, against many victims, or if you engaged in particularly heinous crimes, you are more likely to score as Tier 3. If, on the other hand, you were convicted of a first time offense, have no criminal history, and have a good job and family support, you may be more likely to score a Tier 1. Given the breadth of these factors, it can be difficult to say which risk category you will fall into based on the type of offense you committed alone, but certainly more serious offenses increase the likelihood that you will be assigned to a higher risk tier.
If you are classified as Tier 1, you have the least onerous registration responsibilities. You should consult your attorney and your probation or parole officer for the specifics, but generally speaking, you are simply required to register with local law enforcement given that your risk of re-offense is considered to be low. If you are classified as Tier 2, you have more significant ongoing responsibilities, including notifying law enforcement, who will then provide notifications to community organizations, summer camps, daycare centers, and schools. Finally, if you are categorized as Tier 3, you face the harshest ongoing requirements given your high risk classification. Notices will be sent to all the above groups and all your neighbors, in addition to law enforcement.
Can You get off Megan’s Law?
Megan’s Law registration typically takes place for life. That said, in rare cases, you may apply to be removed from the registry if you have only committed one offense, 15 years have passed since you committed the registrable crime and you have not committed another one, and you can prove that you are not a threat to others. This is a difficult showing to make, but not impossible, particularly with the right legal counsel. In addition, if you disagree with the application of the RRAS or JRAS factors to your case following your release from jail or prison, you may be able to bring a motion in the original court where you were convicted to challenge your assignment to a particular tier. Contact our experienced New Jersey Megan’s Law Attorneys to learn more about appealing your tier assignment.
What about Juvenile Sex Offender Registration?
Juveniles can also be ordered to register under Megan’s Law. registration is required for crimes like aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, sexual assault, kidnapping in certain cases, luring or enticing, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal restraint, false imprisonment in certain cases, or criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, among other crimes. Juveniles are assigned to one of three risk tiers along the lines discussed above, based on a prosecutor’s assessment using the JRAS. The JRAS factors consider three main areas: sexual offense history, environmental characteristics, and antisocial behavior. These three categories cover the same thirteen factors as those for adults. The more serious or prolonged the offense, the more likely you are to be assigned to Tier 3. The more support you have, and the less criminal or antisocial history you have, the more likely you are to be assigned to a lower tier.
Juvenile sex offenders also have a greater chance of getting off the sex offender registry, although that can still be difficult. Such offenders may request that the court remove them from the registry if they were under 14 at the time of their offense but are now over the age of 18. They can also apply to be removed based on the same criteria discussed in connection with adults above.
Jackson NJ Megan’s Law Attorney Help
If you are accused of sex crime or have a case involving Megan’s Law in Ocean County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney to learn more based on the facts of your case. Our lawyers have extensive experience in the realm of sex crimes and we can help with your defense, registration questions, classification challenges, or appeals. Contact our local offices at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation now.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.