Megan's Law: What It Is; How It Began
“Megan's Law” is a social and legal monstrosity. Megan's Law in New Jersey began with Jesse Timmendequas. Jesse raped and brutally murdered a little girl, Megan Kanka. He was a previously convicted sex offender who lived in the same neighborhood.
Megan's parents were devastated, as would be any parents suffering such a tragedy. Needing to do something, anything, to deal with their grief, they fixated upon alleged inadequacies of the New Jersey legal system. Megan's parents, Maureen Kanka in particular, reasoned that, had they only known that a convicted sex offender lived nearby, they could have better protected their daughter. So they started a campaign to require neighborhood notification of nearby convicted sex offenders.
The Kankas found a ready ally with fascist New Jersey Radio 101.5. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Kanka and fascist New Jersey Radio 101.5 fanned the flames and whipped up public frenzy. Then politicians jumped on the band wagon. Some were demagogic; some were cowardly; many were misguided; some were just vicious. New Jersey thus became a pioneer state in sex offender registry and notification laws.
The monstrosity spawned by that unholy alliance took effect in 1994, on Halloween. Some aspects of Megan's Law were made retroactive. Then, like a loathsome and highly contagious disease, these laws quickly spread, first nationwide, then overseas. Their federal version is the “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act,” 42 U.S.C. Section 16911. Their social dragnets now wreak unimaginable hardship upon hundreds of thousands of persons. The vast majority of those persons pose no threat to the public. Some were actually innocent.
Megan's Law: Obligations To Register and Report
Persons stricken by Megan's Law incur various burdens. One burden is that they register with local police. They must travel to their local police headquarters to do so. Many departments require that registration be by appointment during working hours, requiring the Registrant to miss work. The frequency of required registration is either annual or every ninety days, depending upon details of the conviction. Interim registrations are required on changes of address, or employment, or where the Registrants attend school.
Requirement to register is bad enough. Unfortunately, persons required to register incur additional burdens, just by virtue of being subject to their registration requirements. Not all of these additional burdens are apparent. For example, barriers are erected for registrants who seek to travel internationally. The International Megan's Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders requires conspicuous notations on registrants' passports when those registrants were convicted of sex offenses against a minor. These burdens exist even when the registrant is not subject to Parole Supervision for Life (PSL) or Community Supervision for Life (CSL).
Megan's Law: Parole Supervision for Life
Adults convicted of Megan's Law offenses are placed on parole supervision for life (originally designated community supervision for life). The restrictions and limitations imposed upon persons placed upon parole supervision for life or community supervision for life are unimaginably oppressive. They exceed by far anything ever imposed by the totalitarian Soviet Union. These limitations are spelled out in the New Jersey Administrative Code at N.J.A.C. 10A:71-6.11 (community supervision for life), and N.J.A.C. 10A:71-6.12 (parole supervision for life). At the whim of the parole board, a person may be required to wear a bracelet or anklet containing a gps radio transmitter that tracks his every move. They can require polygraph examinations “to reduce the offender's denial mechanisms.”
Parole supervision for life is imposed only upon adults. New Jersey Juveniles adjudicated delinquent are not subjected to parole supervision for life, even when the underlying actions would have constituted sex- or sex-related offenses if committed by an adult.
Megan's Law: Community Notification
Persons placed on Megan's Law are subjected to community notification. Their names are placed on a national sex offender registry. Information collected in the ongoing registration process is disseminated to persons living or working near where the registrant lives, works, or attends school.
The degree to which the community is saturated with this information depends on which of three “tiers” or risk levels, the registrant is assigned. Tier One is the lowest tier, Tier Three the highest. The tiers to which Megan's victims are assigned are determined, for the most part, by thirteen criteria. Information provided during periodic ninety-day or annual registrations can trigger reassessments of prior tier classifications.
Provisions exist to challenge Tier Two and Tier Three assignments. These challenges can be based upon incorrect application of the criteria. Sometimes even correct application of the criteria yield an inappropriate tier assignment. These inappropriate tier assignments are sometimes considered to be “outside the heartland.” These assignments, too, can be challenged.
Megan's Law: The Internet
Megan's Law requires New Jersey State Police to place onto their web site personal information concerning convicted individuals. The specific statute that calls for placing this information is N.J.S. 2C:7-13. Information placed as a result of N.J.S. 2C:7-13 includes name, address, date of birth, crime for which the individual was convicted, and physical description. Their photos are displayed.
Under N.J.S. 2C:7-13, not everyone convicted of a Megan's Law offense has their information placed on the New Jersey State Police web site. In essence, information for all persons classified in Tier Three is placed there. Information for persons classified in Tier One is placed only when conduct was “found to be characterized by a pattern of repetitive, compulsive behavior.” For persons classified in Tier Two, additional factors and combinations of factors are examined to determine whether their information will be added. It is necessary to read N.J.S. 2C:7-13 closely in order to understand how this determination is made.
Various non-government sites also spew forth this swill. One example is homefacts.com. Megan's Law Lawyers in New Jersey believe that obtaining legal recourse against these vermin, if available at all, will be difficult. The effort would be costly. However, they discuss another possible solution below.
Megan's Law: Social Costs
Stating the obvious, Megan's Law cripples those that it directly affects. It diminishes their ability to contribute to society. It goes far beyond the crime that begot it. It reaches the eighteen-year-old who has consensual sex with a seventeen-year-old. It reaches the female teacher who has consensual sex with her teen-aged male student. It reaches persons convicted of kidnapping a minor, even when the kidnapping had no sexual component whatsoever. The viciousness and mindlessness with which this horror has been implemented and indiscriminately applied is exemplified by the plight of Zachery Anderson, an Indiana teenager. His ordeal was documented in an article in the July 5, 2015, New York Times.
Megan's Law causes a grotesque misapplication of social resources. Its costs to New Jersey and the nation are staggering. A sprawling bureaucracy sprang up to implement and enforce Megan's Law. The Parole Board tells us on its own web site that, as a result of Megan's Law, its caseload of sex offenders has increased from five percent to about one-third.
Megan's Law swallows resources urgently needed for projects throughout New Jersey and the nation. A June 2019 Pennsylvania case exemplifies the depths to which this insanity has descended. Missouri's implementation destroys lives and families. Cleveland County North Carolina Sheriff Alan Norman assigns extra department personnel to a county fair to look for and arrest registered sex offenders despite non-existence of prior problems. A Mississippi man is being told he must move from the $250,000.00 home he bought because a private jungle gym that a nearby neighbor erected constitutes a playground. A New Jersey man is given one day to relocate from his home of several years for no articulated reason at all. (“This address is no longer viable.”) Thus trains derail, bridges collapse, tainted food goes to market uninspected, water mains break, forests burn, pandemic threats are ignored, a continent is consumed by fire, and cities drown as climate change batters an unprepared nation and world. All the while, society is too obsessed with its useless witch hunt to give those real and present dangers the attention they so desperately need. Discarded in the process are the outcasts trapped in Megan's jaws. They are left to just cope as best they can, and let the devil take the hindmost.
Supreme Court of New Jersey Upholds Megan's Law
It took less than a year for the Supreme Court of New Jersey to rule upon the constitutionality of Megan's Law. For the most part, the Court upheld its provisions. The specific case upholding those provisions was Doe v. Poritz, 142 N.J. 1 (1995). A footnote on page 15 of the Poritz decision reveals the Court members' collective thinking (emphasis added):
Megan's Law: A Complete Failure
The Court's measurement of society's concerns was dead on balls accurate. But it was the fear-mongering and fanning of the flames described above that created those concerns. So then, having created those concerns, what remained to be seen was the extent to which this social albatross would accomplish its ostensible purpose. A 2008 study provided the answer. This study was prepared by the New Jersey Department of Corrections and funded by the United States Department of Justice.
The study was “Megan's Law: Assessing the Practical and Monetary Efficacy”. Above, we characterized Megan's Law as “useless.” The 2008 study justifies that characterization. It found that Megan's Law yields no benefits whatsoever. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Rien. The entire report is online. Read it! Here are pertinent excerpts from its executive summary:
A page on the web site of the New Jersey State Parole Board tells us, “Simply put, the goal of the agency's supervision of sex offenders is to prevent further victimization.” So for all this expense and persecution, one would expect that Megan's Law would yield some benefits to society. Yet the New Jersey Department of Corrections reveals that Megan's Law moves us not a single inch closer to that goal. Megan, herself, of course, remains dead.
Pennsylvania appears to be getting the message. New Jersey should do likewise.
Megan's Law: Relief Sometimes Available
As indicated above, Megan's Law sentences are for life. Many States however, have provisions for relief. New Jersey is one of those States, but only after passage of many years, and only sometimes. Relief in New Jersey may become available after the person has endured Megan's curse for at least fifteen years. Juveniles adjudicated delinquent in New Jersey for acts committed while under age fourteen can seek relief upon reaching age eighteen.
There are actually two aspects to removal from Megan's Law. The first aspect is elimination of the requirement for periodic registration. The second aspect is release from the requirement of Parole Supervision for Life. A person subject to both requirements would explore relief from both. However, criteria for relief for each of the two burdens are not identical. A person may thus qualify for relief from one of these requirements, but not the other. Another page on this site provides the text of the relevant statutes.
Relief for those on the sex offender registry is sought by preparing and filing a motion for removal from Megan's Law. The motion must have supporting documentation. This documentation will support the appropriateness of providing the relief sought. At a minimum, this documentation will include a psychological evaluation. Educational documentation, a cv and, perhaps, letters of reference could prove helpful. The Megan's Law motion, with supporting materials, are filed in the county of the person's current residence. Often, this county of current residence is not the county where the criminal charges originally arose.
Registration and community notification requirements are imposed upon juveniles adjudicated delinquent on account of qualifying sex offenses, as well as for adults. As indicated above, for juveniles adjudicated delinquent on account of acts committed while under fourteen years of age, the law is somewhat different. Those individuals can be relieved of community notification and their requirement to register when they reach age eighteen. As with adults, juveniles seeking relief from the requirements of Megan's Law must satisfy the court that they are not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others. They must establish this by “clear and convincing evidence.”
Megan's Law: Non-judicial relief
As indicated above, there are non-government internet sites that publicize information about convicted sex offenders. Persons whose information is on these sites may be able to obtain relief through non-judicial means. For example, the web host for homefacts.com is GoDaddy. GoDaddy, like many web hosts, has a page that tells people how they can report internet abuse by its clients. The specific page for GoDaddy from which people can obtain this information is https://www.godaddy.com/help/reporting-abuse-27154?. Or send GoDaddy an email dirctly at email@example.com.
The web host for any particular site can be readily determined from www.whois.com. Registrants would enter the site URL in the box towards the upper right. This procedure will reveal the name of the web host, and provide an email address where abuse may be reported. Megan's Law Lawyers in New Jersey invite feedback on whether web hosts will respond favorably to complaints of this nature.
Another resource for persons subject to Megan's Law is the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws “NARSOL”. NARSOL is composed of Megan's Law registrants, their families, friends, and those who share their concerns. On an organizational basis, NARSOL fights for the rights of registrants. Equally importantly, NARSOL is a platform whereby concerned individuals can share their experiences, and provide social support. In a world where Megan's victims are stigmatized, NARSOL helps relieve social isolation that might otherwise be unbearable. A similar platform is Sex Offender Resource.
Finally, Megan's victims need not wait for others to help them. Take the proverbial bull by the horns: Help yourself! Rise above the barriers that Megan's vicious laws throw at you. That is exactly what Willie Russell is doing. A registered Lever III sex offender in Washington State, Mr. Russell is not letting his scarlet letter dominate his life. He is running for public office in Snohomish County Council. So, too, should registered readers here participate in public activities (to the extent allowed), and do so without shame.
Megan's Law: Legal Issues
Aside from inclusion in the sex offender registry, persons subject to Megan's Law can encounter other legal and Constitutional issues. These issues can include the following:
- Is a person whose name is on the sex offender registry allowed to move from New Jersey to another state? If so, what requirements exist?
- What happens if a person on the sex offender registry living in another state wishes to move to New Jersey?
- Can a New Jersey judge grant relief to a New Jersey resident who is subject to Megan's Law on account of a conviction in another State?
- Doesn't subjecting a person to Megan's Law for an offense that occurred before Megan's Law was even enacted violate his rights under the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution? And if so, what can he do about it?
- Can a failure to register as a sex offender as required under Megan's Law be cured?
- Can a failure to report to a parole officer as required under Megan's Law be cured?
- Besides complying with New Jersey requirements, what more must a person do in order to comply with federal requirements under the “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act”?
- In view of the fact that Megan's Law has been demonstrated to be totally useless, does subjecting persons to its grotesque requiremements constitute a denial of substantive due process under the New Jersey and United States Constitutions?
Legislators and Judges: This Next Section Is for You
This page documents the insanity and the worthlessness of Megan's Law. Megan's Law serves only to enrich the legal/prison complex (and, yes, that certainly includes Megan's Law lawyers), all at the expense of society. It is useless, counterproductive, “feel-good” legislation. Are there not some legislators with the courage to tell it like it is? And judges: Isn't it time to stop imprisoning these technical violators of a worthless law? Folks, after thirty consecutive years of failure, have we learned nothing?
When Megan's Law is ultimately repealed, the Law Offices of Allan Marain will take a financial hit. That's all right! It will free up their resources, enabling them to charge fees for matters that legitimately belong in court.
Boldly defying conventional wisdom did much for Bernie Sanders. It did even more for Donald Trump. Had Governor Christie the vision and the courage to skillfully attack this albatross, it could have propelled even him to the White House. In like manner, it can immeasurably advance your own careers. Have your campaign managers call me: I'll show them how. So, if not out of concern for society, then for your own self-interests, decry this cancerous law. Help rid New Jersey of this legal atrocity.
New Jersey Megan's Law Lawyer
Allan Marain is a New Jersey Megan's Law Lawyer. He has been in practice since before Megan's Law came into existence. He is a co-chair of the Megan's Law Committee of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (ACDL-NJ). Allan is a member of the Megan's Law committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association. That subcommittee is presently working on a project to refine RRAS, the scale by which the tier level of persons subject to Megan's Law is determined. Participants on the subcommittee include clinical and forensic psychologists, prosecutors, and other members of the criminal defense bar. Allan is also a member of NARSOL, the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws.
Allan is a lawyer highly qualified to deal with issues indicated above, to assess eligibility for removal from Megan's Law, and to seek a court order for removal. He is an experienced New Jersey sex crimes lawyer. He is a lawyer who can forcefully and effectively represent the accused individual before Megan's Law is inflicted upon them in the first place.
Persons wishing to explore relief from the atrocity that is Megan's Law, and persons facing sex charges, should call their toll-free number, 877-652-6531.