If you have been convicted of any type of sex-related crime from public urination to child pornography, you may be required to comply with certain standards and obligations that are established for sexual predators as a condition of your release from jail, a shorter sentence or parole. For many convicted sexual criminals, these requirements dictate where they can live, what they can do to earn a living and how they can spend their free time. While the ultimate goal of these requirements is to protect the public from potential sexual predators, people who have served their time and are trying to start over after a conviction often get caught in the middle.
Megan’s Law requires convicted sex offenders in New Jersey to register with their local police offices and provide certain pieces of information about themselves to the general public. This registry takes effect even after a convicted criminal has served his or her time in jail or on parole.
Offenses such as aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, criminal sexual contact with a minor, child pornography, promoting prostitution, luring or enticing and kidnapping require registration under Megan’s Law. Although the majority of crimes that require registration involve minor victims, those convicted of any sexual offense against an adult victim, e.g. sexual contact or sexual assault, will be subject to the same Megan’s Law registration and penalties.
Before the passage of the federal law as a subsection of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, only a few states required sex offenders to join an official registry with their local law enforcement offices. Now, every state requires such registration and offenders may be asked to provide the following information:
- Full name
- Current photo
- Physical description
- Description of the convicted sex offense
- Residential address
- Address of employer
Under Megan’s Law, offenders may be required to provide this information for a set period of time (15 years after their release in New Jersey) or permanently for the rest of their lives. Each state decides what information will be made available and how it will be circulated to the public. Either way, a recently-released convict will be expected to provide significant personal information that could be detrimental for future career goals.
What Happens if You Don’t Register?
If you fail to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, you could be strictly penalized and may even find yourself back in jail. But for many people, registering puts them in a jail of a different type, particularly since many of them are unable to find work, make personal connections or even go to the grocery store without someone recognizing them from the registry.
You may be able to take steps to remove yourself from the registry or your obligation to continue providing the required information. Individuals who have committed only one offense (and no other offenses) within a 15 year period and can demonstrate that they don’t pose a threat to anyone else, can apply for removal from the Sex Offender Registry.
For more information on Megan’s Law and sex offender registration requirements, contact the New Jersey sexual assault attorneys at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, today.