Constitutionality of Megan’s Law (Part 2)

by | Sep 3, 2023 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The Appellate Division continued in relevant part: Doe recognized the registration and community notification requirements “implicate protectible liberty interests in privacy and reputation, and therefore trigger the right to due process. The minimum requirements of due process are notice and the opportunity to be heard.” The following factors must be weighed to determine what process a given case requires:

First, the private interest that will be affected by the official action; second, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute safeguards; and finally, the government’s interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail. Applying those factors, Doe upheld the registration and community notification requirements, but held “a hearing is required prior to notification under Tiers II and III.”

Here, M.H.’s procedural due process claims fail, as Megan’s Law provided him clear notice of his registration obligations and the consequences that would result if he violated those obligations. See N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2. Additionally, M.H. does not contend he was denied a meaningful opportunity to be heard with respect to the offenses resulting in his lifetime Megan’s Law obligations, he was denied a hearing prior to being classified as a Tier II registrant, or that he would have been eligible for termination under subsection (f) had he received greater procedural safeguards. We are accordingly satisfied M.H. was afforded the procedural due process guaranteed to him by our State Constitution prior to the challenged deprivation of his rights.

We also reject M.H.’s contention that the lifetime obligations triggered by a registrant’s failure to satisfy the requirements of subsection (f) creates an irrebuttable presumption of dangerousness. As noted, M.H. relies on C.K.¸ which held subsection (g) was unconstitutional as applied to juveniles because it created an irrebuttable presumption that juveniles who commit certain offenses are irredeemable, a proposition that was “not supported by scientific or sociological studies, our jurisprudence, or the record.” Notably, subsection (g) provides that registrants who commit certain offenses, or numerous offenses, can never terminate their Megan’s Law obligations. N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(g).

Section 2(g) focuses on convictions or adjudications for sex offenses on more than one occasion. Under those circumstances, it seems reasonable to never allow Megan’s Law termination.