On January February 7, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion In the Matter of Registrant A.D., J.B., and C.M. The Court adopted the opinion of the lower Appellate Court and held that the commission of any criminal offense, not just sex offenses, bars a defendant from being removed from the sex offender registry after fifteen years.
Under Megan’s Law’s registration requirements, a court may terminate a registrant’s obligations if, among other requirements, the registrant “has not committed an offense within 15 years following conviction or release whichever is later, and is not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.” In this appeal concerning applications to terminate these sex offenders’ Registration Law obligations, the Court determines whether the term “offense,” as used in N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f), means “a crime, a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense unless a particular subsection in the code is intended to apply to less than all three”-the definition given in the general definitional subsection of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (the Code), N.J.S.A. 2C:1-14(k)-or a “sex offense” as defined in the Registration Law.
A.D. was convicted of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, which triggered the requirements of the Registration Law. In 2015, more than fifteen years after his conviction, A.D. filed an unopposed application to be relieved of the Registration Law’s obligations. At the time, neither the court nor counsel was aware that in 2005 A.D. had been convicted of violating a condition of his sentence by failing to notify his parole officer of his change of address. Three months after the court granted A.D.’s application, the State became aware of his 2005 conviction and moved for reconsideration. The court vacated its previous order, rejecting A.D.’s argument that his application should be granted because he had not committed a sex offense within fifteen years. A.D. appealed.