Megan’s Law and Juvenile Offenses

by | Aug 26, 2023 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

On May 3, 2023, a three-judge appellate panel decided the Gloucester County case of In the Matter of Registrant R.H. The principal issue under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 was whether the fifteen-year offense free requirement for Megan’s Law termination applied to juvenile offenders.

Judge Mayer wrote for the Court in relevant par: the statutory scheme created under Megan’s Law is predicated on the definition of a person who “shall register” under subsections (a) and (b), which includes individuals who were adjudicated delinquent. To read N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f) as suggested by R.H. and T.L. would lead to an illogical result in that Megan’s Law registrants adjudicated delinquent as juveniles would have no opportunity to terminate their registration requirement because such relief would be limited to individuals who were convicted or released from a correctional facility. It is clear from a plain reading of Megan’s Law that the Legislature sought to allow juveniles adjudicated delinquent to terminate their Megan’s Law registration requirements the same as an adult under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f) and did not intend to leave juveniles adjudicated delinquent without a remedy.

We also reject the constitutional arguments raised by R.H. and T.L. They contend that N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f) is unconstitutional because a juvenile sex offender who commits any other offense within the fifteen-year period would be precluded from terminating the registration requirement under subsection (f) and face a lifetime registration obligation, which would conflict with the Court’s decision in C.K. 233 N.J. at 48.

However, R.H. and T.L. overlook that juveniles, fifteen years after another offense, may apply for release from Megan’s Law requirements if they demonstrate they are unlikely to pose a threat to the safety of others. The opinion of the trial court is affirmed.

In these consolidated appeals, the defendants argued that juveniles should not be required to wait 15 years before petitioning for Megan’s Law termination. The Court’s analysis framed the issue as if acceptance of the defendant’s position would mean that juveniles could never be released from Megan’s Law requirements.