New Jersey Considers Bill to Raise Stakes for Aiding Sex Offenders

New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean, R-Union, the senate minority leader, is the sponsor of a bill introduced in January 2012 that would toughen criminal penalties for people who aid sex offenders in their attempts to elude state registration requirements.

Sen. Kean said in a press release, "Given the rate of recidivism among convicted sex offenders and the heinous nature of their crimes, those who harbor these individuals must also be held accountable."

The bill was referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, which unanimously advanced an amended version in early March. The bill now sits with the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Megan's Law

New Jersey's Megan's Law imposes strict and detailed registration requirements on those convicted of sex crimes to allow law enforcement and the public to keep track of these criminals in the ongoing effort to keep the community, especially kids, safe from sexual predators.

The Proposal

The proposed law (S622) would make harboring or concealing a sex offender in his or her attempt to evade Megan's Law a crime with a minimum prison sentence of three years. This crime of harboring or concealing a sex offender trying to avoid sex-offender registry requirements would be either a third- or fourth-degree crime.

For a third-degree offense, there would be no possibility of parole for the first three years of the sentence. For a fourth-degree conviction, there would be no possibility of parole for the first year of the prison term.

Future of the Bill

The 2012 to 2013 New Jersey legislative session is divided into two annual sessions, and matters pending from the first may be considered in the second. Therefore, this bill, if not passed this session, could still be considered next year in the second half of the current two-year session.

Anyone accused of aiding a sex offender or of a sex crime should protect his or her legal rights by seeking advice and counsel from an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.