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Sex-Offender Registry in New Jersey: What Does Megan’s Law Require?

As the state that first initiated the registration process commonly known as Megan’s Law in 1994, New Jersey imposes serious consequences on individuals convicted of sex crimes against children. Anyone facing allegations of child molestation, child-pornography possession or child sexual assault should know that, in addition to prison and a criminal record, the consequences of a conviction can include lifetime registration as a sex offender.

New Jersey’s criminal-justice code mandates registration by certain sex offenders and authorizes publication of their presence within communities where they intend to reside, based on a three-tier notification system. The Division of State Police is also authorized to make information available over the Internet to enable the members of the public to “take appropriate precautions” to protect themselves and those in their care.

Registration is required of anyone who has been convicted, adjudicated delinquent or found not guilty by reason of insanity for crimes such as aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and other specific sex crimes, regardless of the age of the victim. New Jersey also requires registration for child-specific sex crimes like child endangerment, luring and enticing, or kidnapping involving sexual conduct with a minor.

The registration requirement encompasses individuals convicted in other states of crimes that justify sex-offender registration, including students who attend New Jersey colleges and universities. Registration forms, which include personal information such as the sex offender’s home address and place of employment, must be submitted to the local police department, which confirms the accuracy of the information.

Consequences for Failure to Properly Register as a Sex Offender

Anyone subject to the Megan’s Law registry must register for the rest of his or her life, and must report a change of address within 10 days of taking a new residence. Failure to comply in any way with those requirements makes the individual subject to criminal prosecution, a serious risk for anyone who already has a criminal record.

The legislature has recognized that in some cases excluding individuals from the New Jersey sex-offender registry is appropriate such as a juvenile with a single conviction or a case involving a single offense with no subsequent offenses over a 15-year period. However, these exceptions must always be based on findings of the relative risks to public safety.

Because the potential consequences of any sex-offense allegation – including destruction of a suspect’s reputation – are so serious, a consultation with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney should be considered at the earliest indication of a criminal investigation.