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MEGAN’S LAW: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES


By SHERRI RUGGIERI

In New Jersey, an accusation of sexual assault requires vigorous representation because of the extensive consequences of a Megan’s Law designation.  “The Megan’s Law sex offender registration and community notification provisions were signed into law on October 31, 1994 (chapters 128 and 133 of Public Laws of 1994). These provisions are set forth in New Jersey law at N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 through 2C:7-11. The law establishing the Megan’s Law sex offender Internet registry was signed on July 23, 2001 (chapter 167 of Public Laws of 2001). The provisions of the Internet registry law are set forth in New Jersey law at N.J.S.A. 2C:7-12 through 2C:7-19.” http://www.njsp.org/sex-offender-registry/index.shtml

This New Jersey law is named for the tragedy that occurred when 7 year old Megan Kanka was sexually assaulted and murdered by her neighbor.  When Megan’s parents learned that the neighbor had a history of sexual assault, they were determined to make the community more knowledgeable about potential sexual predators living among them.  The public policy was found to outweigh any individual’s privacy rights.  For example, a person can check the registry before purchasing a house in New Jersey to determine if there are registered offenders living in the area.  One of the unintended consequences of Megan’s Law is that it can be merged into a plea agreement.  Unlike expungement for other crimes, certain convictions with Megan’s Law attachments (like aggravated sexual assault) can never be altered.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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