2 seeking removal from Megan’s Law registry get new chance
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Megan’s Law is ambiguous regarding when sex offenders can have their names removed from a public registry, a New Jersey appeals court wrote Friday, giving another chance to two offenders who want their names off the list.
A lower court had ruled that the two must stay on the registry, but the three-judge appeals panel sent the case back to be reconsidered.
Both offenders were convicted of sexual offenses in the 1990s. Both then had convictions for minor, non-sex-related offenses in 2001 — one for computer-related theft and the other for failure to register as a sex offender.
Both were sentenced to one year of probation on the 2001 convictions.
Megan’s Law, passed after the murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994, imposes lifetime registration requirements on offenders but allows those on the registry to apply for removal if they haven’t committed a crime within 15 years following “conviction or release from a correctional facility for any term of imprisonment imposed” and are “not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.”
In seeking to have their names removed, the offenders, identified by the initials H.D. and J.M., argued they were eligible for removal since neither had a conviction for more than 15 years since 2001.
The state disagreed, arguing that the law bars anyone on the registry from seeking removal if they commit any crime within the first 15 years following conviction for the underlying sex offense.
The appeals court wrote that the relevant portion of the law is ambiguous, not regarding when the 15-year requirement starts, but “whether the clock may ever reset.”
“We are convinced that the Legislature never intended to forever bar relief from Megan’s Law’s registration requirements to every person who commits an offense, however minor, within the first fifteen years following conviction of a sex offense or release from custody after that conviction,” the judges wrote.
The state attorney general’s office didn’t immediately comment Friday.