Sex offenders must fill out a registration form and submit it to their local police department. The form requests personal information of the sex offender, including home address and place of employment. The accuracy of the information on the form is confirmed. This information is kept by the Division of State Police in a Sex Offender Registry.
The offenses requiring registration include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact if the victim is minor, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child, endangering the welfare of a child through acts involving pornography featuring a child, promoting prostitution of a child, luring or enticing, kidnapping, criminal restraint, and false imprisonment if the victim is a minor and the offender is not a parent of the victim.
Sex offenders who have been convicted since Megan’s Law went into effect on October 31, 1994, or who were serving a sentence on the effective date of the law are required to register. Sex offenders who have been found to be repetitive and compulsive by experts and the courts, regardless of the date of conviction, are required to register.
A juvenile sex offender is a person who commits a sex offense while under the age of 18. Juvenile sex offenders must register like adults.
Sex offenders convicted in another state are required to register within 10 days of moving to New Jersey. In addition, sex offenders convicted in another state are required to register even if they are just attending school or are employed in New Jersey.
Sex offenders are required to report every change of address. Sex offenders must notify the local police at least 10 days prior to the move. In addition, law enforcement agencies will monitor whether sex offenders are reporting changes of addresses. Some sex offenders must verify their addresses annually. Others must verify their addresses every 90 days.
All sex offenders subject to Megan’s Law must register for the remainder of their lives. Sex offenders may apply to the court to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry if they committed only one offense, have not committed another offense for 15 years, and prove that they are not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others. Juvenile sex offenders may also apply to the court to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry if they were under the age of 14 at the time of their offense but are now over the age of 18.
Failure to comply in any way with Megan’s Law is a fourth degree crime. If you know someone has been convicted of a crime requiring registration, you can always provide that information to the local police or county prosecutor. However, they will not be able to advise you whether or not that particular sex offender is registered.
The county prosecutors receive the registration forms from the local police. The prosecutors then must determine the risk to the community -- the likelihood that the sex offender will commit another crime. In making that determination, the prosecutors weigh many factors set by statutes and the Attorney General’s Guidelines. The prosecutors classify sex offenders in one of three tiers based on the degree of risk they pose to the public: low risk (Tier 1), moderate risk (Tier 2), or high risk (Tier 3). Classification in a tier determines who will receive notification.
If the risk level is low (Tier 1), law enforcement agencies are notified. If the risk level is moderate (Tier 2), in addition to law enforcement agencies, schools, licensed day care centers, summer camps, and registered community organizations are notified of sex offenders that they are likely to encounter because of the possibility that pedophiles and sexual predators will be drawn to these places. If the risk level is high (Tier 3), in addition to law enforcement agencies, schools, licensed day care centers, summer camps, registered community organizations, and members of the public are notified.
In all three levels of notification, the information provided includes the offender’s name, description and photograph, address, place of employment or school if applicable, a description of the offender’s vehicle and license plate number, and a brief description of the offense.
You will receive personal notification of the location of all high risk (Tier 3) offenders that you are likely to encounter in your neighborhood. A law enforcement officer, such as a police officer, state police trooper, or investigator from your county prosecutor’s office, will come to your door and deliver a notice to an adult member of your household.
You may share and discuss the information you have received with those residing in your household or with anyone caring for your children at your residence in your absence. You may NOT share this information with anyone outside your household or not in your care. You may NOT copy or post the notice. Law enforcement will notify all appropriate community members, schools, organizations, residences, and businesses.
Megan’s Law information is only given to persons already living in the neighborhood. This information will NOT be given by law enforcement agencies to persons who are considering moving into the neighborhood. Also, the seller may NOT be required as a condition of the sale to tell the buyer about Megan’s Law notifications. However, once a home is actually purchased, the new owner may request Megan’s Law notifications from the local police department.
Information is available on the Internet at the following website: www.njsp.org. Click onto the Sex Offender Registry icon. The law limits the information to be placed on the Internet to all high risk (Tier 3) offenders and some moderate risk (Tier 2) offenders. The law excludes all juvenile sex offenders (except for Tier 3 juvenile sex offenders), most moderate risk offenders whose crimes were committed against members of their families or households, and most moderate sex offenders whose crimes were considered statutory because of age.
Reinforce general precautions about staying away from strangers and ask your children to tell you or their caretakers where they will be at all times. Use the information responsibly. Talk to your children. Tell them to treat the sex offender as a stranger. Tell them where the sex offender lives, what he or she looks like, and what to do if they encounter or are approached by that person. If you believe that a crime is being committed by a sex offender, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately as you would do in any case of suspected criminal activity.
There is no law that can ever completely protect us. Adults need to teach children about basic safety precautions. Check with your child’s school to determine whether a program is in place to teach children about strangers. Also, check with the school and other locations where your child spends time on a regular basis to determine whether safety precautions are in place.
Any actions taken against the individual named in the notification, including vandalism or property, verbal or written threats of harm, or physical violence against this person, his or her family, or employer, will result in arrest and prosecution for criminal acts. Vigilantism is not only a crime, it is an action that will undermine the efforts of those who have worked hard to enact this law.