Constitutionality of Megan’s Law (Part 3)

by | Sep 5, 2023 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

Judge Natali continued in relevant part: The Court therefore distinguished subsection (f), as it explained: Subsection (f) of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 subjects all sex offenders, including juveniles, to presumptive lifetime registration and notification requirements. Unlike subsection (g), however, subsection (f) allows a registrant to seek relief from those requirements fifteen years after his juvenile adjudication, provided he has been offense-free and is “not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.” Subsection (g) imposes an irrebuttable presumption that juveniles, such as defendant, are irredeemable, even when they no longer pose a public safety risk and are fully rehabilitated.

Similarly, the Court noted, “subsection (f) imposes presumptive lifetime registration and notification requirements for sex offenses covered by subsection (g) but allows for a juvenile sex offender to be relieved of those requirements.” Additionally, the Court reasoned subsection (g)’s irrebuttable lifetime presumption was “not needed given the fifteen-year look back required by subsection (f).”

Although the constitutionality of subsection (f) was not before the C.K. Court, it clearly distinguished subsection (f) from subsection (g) due to a registrant’s ability to terminate their Megan’s Law obligations under subsection (f). As the Court made clear, all registrants, except those subject to subsection (g), can avail themselves of the relief provided in subsection (f). Accordingly, as subsection (f) provides procedures by which a registrant can terminate their Megan’s Law obligations, it does not create an irrebuttable presumption. Simply, except for those registrants subject to subsection (g), registrants can rebut any presumption of dangerousness imposed by Megan’s Law by remaining offense-free for the statutory period and demonstrating they no longer pose a risk to their community.

Finally, M.H. contends the Megan’s Law lifetime registration and community notification requirements violate “the equal protection guarantee of the New Jersey Constitution, both facially and as applied to him.” Specifically, he argues “once registrants attain the desistance threshold, treating them differently from anyone else violates their equal protection rights.” (emphasis omitted). Again, we disagree for the reasons stated in Doe.

Doe refers to the seminal case of Doe v. Poritz. Doe held that Megans Law was constitutional in that it did not violate the following clauses of our state and federal constitutions: double jeopardy, bill of attainder, ex post facto, and cruel and/or unusual punishment.