by Robert Agre, Esq.
Megan’s Law, as it is commonly called, is a statutory requirement which mandates the registration and notification upon release of certain sex offenders. Those people who are required to register under Megan’s Law have been convicted of certain enumerated crimes set forth in N.J.S.A.2C:7-2. The complexity of Megan’s Law often requires the services of an attorney and a forensic psychologist to assist an individual about to be classified as a sex offender.
The classification process for Megan’s Law begins at different times for different individuals. A person who has been convicted of a qualifying offense law under Megan’s Law but who is not going to be incarcerated will be classified immediately after he or she is sentenced. An individual who is required to serve a prison sentence as a result of his or her conviction will not be classified for the purposes of Megan’s Law until he or she is released from incarceration. The classification process begins with a letter from the County Prosecutor’s Office in the county where the individual resides. A package is sent to the person who is about to be classified and includes in that package a document called the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale as well as an Application for Judicial Review. People subject to Megan’s Law are placed in either Tier One, Tier Two or Tier Three. Each tier represents an escalating risk and is more burdensome to the registrant. Individuals classified in Tier One are simply required to register with the Chief of Police in the town in which they live. Such registration may be required either every ninety (90) days or yearly depending upon whether or not that person has been determined to be a repetitive and compulsive sex offender as a result of the presentence psychological evaluation at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Unit. Individuals classified within Tier Two generally have their identities and the nature of their crimes posted on an internet registry. In addition, schools, certain religious and community organizations within a defined geographical radius of a registrant’s residence will be notified of the registrant’s presence in the community. Individuals classified within Tier Three, in addition to their registration requirements and their placement in the internet registry, also have their identities and residences disclosed to all their neighbors.
The Registrant Risk Assessment Scale which is initially scored by the County Prosecutor’s Office consists of multiple categories to which points are assigned. The more points a person accumulates the greater the risk he or she is thought to present to the community. Anyone about to be classified under Megan’s Law would do well to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in this field of the law. Should the registrant question the way the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale has been scored, it is important to file immediately an Application for Judicial Review. An attorney, often acting with the assistance of a forensic psychologist, may be able to assist the registrant in changing his or her tier classification.
The Law Offices of Agre & St. John offer services to registrants who require assistance with classification. For more information, call our South Jersey criminal lawyers at 856-428-7797 or contact us online.