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What Happens If I Don’t Register As A Sex Offender?

January 12, 2022 | Posted In Criminal Law |

Failing to register as a sex offender in New Jersey can result in serious consequences. Although it can feel personally embarrassing or unnecessary, there is no excuse for not registering as a sex offender as required by law. Harsh sanctions can be imposed on those who refuse to follow the state’s strict requirements. This results in significantly worse legal trouble, including being charged with a third-degree crime for failing to register as a sex offender, as required by Megan’s Law). A conviction could result in a sentence of up to five years in state prison.

Having spent decades representing people involved in sex crime cases, each New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman knows the potential consequences of not registering as a sex offender. We work to obtain the best and fairest outcomes for our clients both before and after their criminal court proceedings. We aim to provide our clients with knowledge about what it means to register as a sex offender and share necessary information about what will happen if they fail to register.

Failure to Register: Charges and Sentences

If charged with failure to register, you could find yourself facing a surprisingly long prison sentence. Failure to register is a third-degree offense. While third-degree offenses do not always result in sentences of jail or prison time, sex offenders are significantly more likely to receive such time. This is because sex offenders already have a pre-existing, serious criminal record, which will result in much more severe consequences for any subsequent crimes.

A conviction for failure to register can lead to up to five years of incarceration in state prison. If you find yourself facing a failure to register charge, it is essential to work with a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who will advocate for you. Your freedom is at risk.

A conviction for failure to register or a conviction for any crime or criminal offense will make it impossible to ever get off of Megan’s Law Supervision!

Registration Requirements

There are certain steps you must take in order to properly register as a sex offender under New Jersey law. Registration must take place at your local police station (a police station located in the town or city you live in). Even if you are homeless or don’t have a permanent address, you must register at your local police station.

At the police station, you must provide them with your personal and identifying information, your residential address, and information about the sex offense you committed. This information will then be placed on the town or city’s public sex offender registry. 

If you plan to relocate, you must visit your local police station prior to your relocation and inform them of your relocation. You must also provide your new address to them. This is required even if you are moving out of the state.

The Registry Tier System 

All persons required to register as sex offenders will be categorized into one of three tiers by a state prosecutor. The more severe the prosecutor considers your sex offense to be, the higher your tier will be. This is significant because your tier classification determines which, and how many, groups of people will be notified of your status as a sex offender. 

Relief from Sex Offender Registration Requirements

During the course of a sex offender’s life, their registration requirements can change. By default, the sex offender registration requirement will be active for the offender’s entire life. However, under certain circumstances, a sex offender may be able to obtain relief from this requirement. 

In order to be relieved of the sex offender registration requirement, a sex offender must meet certain conditions over a period of time. These conditions are:

  • Only one sex offense was committed by the offender
  • No sex offense was committed for the past 15 years
  • Demonstrate that the offender no longer is a risk to the public
  • Can’t have any convictions for a crime or criminal offense (disorderly or petty disorderly offense) after being convicted of a Megan’s Law crime.

Removal of sex offender registration requirements can only occur once in one’s entire life. If a sex offender is relieved of registration requirements, but then commits another sex offense, they will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life – no exceptions.

Exceptions: Know Your Rights

Another benefit of consulting with a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer is that your case can be reviewed to see if it falls within a category of sex crimes that is an exception to the sex offender registration requirement. If a sex offender only has one sex offense conviction and acted against a victim living in their household, they are subject to an exception from the sex offender registration requirement (known as the "household/incest exception").

New Jersey also provides an exception from the sex offender registration requirement for most juvenile sex offenders. There are different rules and requirements for registering as a sex offender when the offender is a juvenile. However, this is not a universally granted exception – all juvenile offenders should consult with a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer to be sure they fall within this exception, as the consequences for failure to register are severe.

Parole and Sex Offender Registries

Complying with sex offender registration requirements is especially important for people on parole. This is because for parolees, compliance with sex offender registration requirements is part of their terms of parole. 

This means that when a person on parole violates their sex offender registration requirements, they do more than the third-degree crime of failure to register – they are in violation of the terms of their parole. Sex offenders on parole who fail to register will face double consequences: they will receive consequences for violating sex offender registration requirements (a third-degree crime) as well as the separate consequences for violating the terms of their parole at the same time. This can result in very severe and complex consequences, including returning to prison.

Do It Right -- Hire a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney 

Failing to register as a sex offender is a serious crime, and you may find yourself facing serious prison time as a result. There is no room for error or mistakes in registering as a sex offender. This is why it is essential to contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney about any hesitations or concerns you have about registering as a sex offender. 

Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending sex crime cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.

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