Megan’s Law was enacted and became effective on October 31, 1994. This statute requires a defendant who has been convicted of certain enumerated sex offenses to register with the police department in the municipality in which they reside. The police will also notify neighbors and local schools of the registrant’s existence and the registrant’s photograph will be posted on an internet database.Once a sexual offender registers with their local police department, the court must determine the risk posed by the offender as well as the likelihood of a repeat offense. Essentially, the court will employ a balancing test and classify any individuals within a three-tiered system. Tier I is a low risk offender. Tier II is a moderate risk offender. Tier III is a high risk offender. The County Prosecutor’s Office (in which the offender resides and is registered) will classify the registrant and apply the appropriate balancing test.
The County Prosecutor’s Office considers the nature of the prior offense, the registrant’s criminal history, any rehabilitation or counseling since the offense, as well as the registrant’s support in the community when grading the registrant. If the registrant’s score is less than 37 on the scale, he or she will be classified as Tier I. If the registrant receives a score of between 37 and 73, he or she will be classified as a Tier II offender. Finally, if the registrant’s score is over 73, he or she will be considered a high risk Tier III offender.
The Prosecutor’s Office can make mistakes when conducting this scoring. As a result, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer can file an appeal of this classification and have the matter litigated before a Superior Court Judge at a formal hearing. If you are classified at a higher Tier than that which is appropriate, it will effect who is notified of the registrant’s Megan’s Law status (i.e. schools, local businesses, day care centers, etc.). Therefore, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer for immediate assistance. There is a short window in which the registrant is permitted to file an appeal of the classification. Contact our experienced criminal defense trial team for a free initial consultation at (973)971-0030.