The New Jersey Supreme Court continued in relevant part: Still, when the Legislature decided to extend relief from community supervision for life (CSL) or its successor, PSL, to sex offenders under another statute, it did so in precise terms. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4(c), individuals may apply for PSL relief “upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that the person has not committed a crime for 15 years since the last conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later.” (emphasis added).
While subsection (f) and PSL share the orbit of sex offender regulations, PSL applies prospectively, but subsection (f) is retroactive. Hence, “any” was the appropriate qualifier in subsection (f) because a Megan’s Law offender who committed an offense and was released from confinement fifteen years before the law’s effective date could apply for registration relief immediately. PSL’s prospective scope did not require the same opportunity.
Furthermore, the use of “last conviction or release from incarceration” with respect to PSL registration relief is apposite because it is not limited to the sex offense conviction that led to an offender’s PSL sentence. Indeed, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4(b) contemplates and specifically provides for incarceration for a term that includes sex offenses and non-sex offenses, stating that if the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another offense at the time he completes the custodial portion of the sentence imposed on the present offense, the special sentence of parole supervision for life shall not commence until the defendant is actually released from incarceration for the other offense. The use of “last conviction” in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4(c) thus incorporates the potential “other offense” — the non-Megan’s Law offense — from the previous subsection.
The PSL provisions demonstrate that the Legislature knows how to tie Megan’s Law requirements to non-Megan’s Law offenses when it chooses; it did not choose to do so in subsection (f). Under the plain language of subsection (f), the fifteen-year period during which an eligible registrant must remain offense-free to qualify for registration relief commences upon his or her conviction or release from confinement for the sex offense that gave rise to his or her registration requirement. For the reasons set forth above, the judgment of the Appellate Division is reversed, and the matter is remanded for the entry of judgment consistent with this opinion.
This was a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court opinion. It is consistent with the Court’s trend of deciding Megan’s Law cases against the defendants.