DOES COMMISSION OF ANY OFFENSE BAR REMOVAL FROM MEGAN’S LAW SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION UNDER 2C:7-2(f) AFTER 15 YEARS OR DOES THIS ONLY APPLY TO COMMISSION OF ADDITIONAL SEX OFFENSES?
A very competent and thorough NY attorney recently approached us with an interesting question. He had a client on the N.J. Registry and on the NY Registry for Megan Law Sex Offenses. He wanted to apply in NY to have his risk level reduced from 2 down to 1 however, thought it would be helpful to have him first removed from the NJ Registry as more then 15 years had passed. However, the client had became homeless for a short period of time and failed to register and was convicted in 2011 in NY for failure to register. The issue was whether the term “offense” in 2C:7-2(f) mean another “sex offense” or any “offense.”
The attorney had come upon our 2012 blog on this subject with citation to Matter of Registrant N.W. and Matter of Registrant F.F., Jr. He questioned whether these decisions from the Appellate Division dating back to 2012 are still good law or have they been reversed? Clearly if they are still good law, his motion would be precluded.
Our research disclosed that unfortunately for his client the law had not changed. In fact, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court had issued an opinion in July of 2015 that was later affirmed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. In Re Matter of Registrant A.D., and it is reported at 441 N.J.Super. 403. In this case the Court ruled that:
The statute authorizing termination of sex offender registration requirements for sex offenders upon proof that sex offender had not committed “offense” within 15 years following conviction or release from correctional facility, whichever was later, did not limit disqualifying offense to sex offense, and thus, sex offenders' convictions, less than 15 years prior to application to terminate registration requirements, for failure to notify parole officer of change of address and violation of restraining order, were for “offenses” that disqualified them from eligibility from termination of registration requirements, under Criminal Justice Code's definition of offense to mean “a crime, a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense,” regardless of whether offense demonstrated risk of re-offending. N.J.S.A. 2C:1–14(k), 2C:7–2(f).
The New Jersey Supreme Court granted a Petition for Cert and on February 7, 2017 concluded that the Appellate Division was so clearly correct that it did not even need write its own opinion but simply agreed with what the Appellate Division wrote. The decision was affirmed per curium in 142 N.J. 1 (2017).
The bottom line is that the issue has been finally decided. If a registered sex offender commits any offense whatsoever, whether a crime, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense, after being placed on the Sex Offense Registry, then they are not eligible to have their reporting requirements terminated for 15 years after the commission of that offense. The offense does not have to be of a sexual nature in order for it to count.