Megan’s Law and Foreign State Convictions (Part 1)

by | Dec 24, 2019 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

On November 15, 2019, a three-judge appellate panel decided the Essex County case of In the Matter of Registrant A.A. The principal issue under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 is whether the New York offense of disseminating indecent material to a minor is sufficiently similar to a New Jersey sex offense to subject the defendant to Megan’s Law supervision in New Jersey.

The Appellate division held in relevant part: Finally, we address A.A.’s argument that the judge erroneously determined that his New York conviction was “similar to” an enumerated offense under Megan’s Law; specifically, that the judge erred in concluding New York Penal Law § 235.21(3), second-degree disseminating indecent material to minors, is “similar to” N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a), third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Instead, A.A. maintains that his New York conviction is “similar to” a conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-3(b), third-degree promoting obscene material to persons under the age of eighteen, which is not an enumerated offense under Megan’s Law. N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(b). Our review of A.A.’s argument is de novo.

A.A. was convicted under New York Penal Law § 235.21, which provides: A person is guilty of disseminating indecent material to minors in the second-degree when: 3. Knowing the character and content of the communication which, in whole or in part, depicts actual or simulated nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse, and which is harmful to minors, he intentionally uses any computer communication system allowing the input, output, examination or transfer, of computer data or computer programs from one computer to another, to initiate or engage in such communication with a person who is a minor.

The common definition of “turgid” is “swollen”. It is strange that a more appropriate word like “aroused” or “erect” was not used in the statute. Use of antiquated and inappropriate terms may be a reflection of how uncomfortable the drafters of the statute were with having to consider sexual activity.