Sex Offender Internet Registry (Part 1)

by | Jun 2, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

On March 22, 2022, a three-judge appellate panel decided the Atlantic County case of In the Matter of Registrant B.B. The principal issue under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-8 concerned the standard for excluding a Tier II offender’s personal identifiers from the sex offender internet registry.

Judge DeAlmeida wrote for the Appellate Division in relevant part: The trial court recognized the absence of statutory authority for excluding B.B.’s personal identifiers from the Internet Registry. It instead relied on the holding in In re Registrant G.B. (1996), to conclude that it has the authority to exclude a Tier II offender’s personal identifiers from the Internet Registry. In In re G.B., the Court held that “in limited circumstances, expert testimony may be introduced at the judicial hearing in order to establish the existence of unique aspects of a registrant’s offense or character that render the RRAS score suspect.”

The Court continued, if believed, such evidence would lead to the conclusions that the RRAS score does not adequately represent the risk of recidivism for that particular registrant and that, therefore, in such circumstances the scope of notification should be more limited than that indicated by the registrant’s RRAS score and attendant tier classification.

Thus, at a tier designation hearing, “a registrant may introduce evidence that the extent of notification called for by his tier categorization is excessive because of unique aspects of his case.” The Court noted that “we foresee few cases in which such a challenge will be successful. However, in the unusual case, facts may exist that warrant a narrowing of the notification (or, perhaps, even the expansion of notification).” “We also conclude, in respect of the scope of notification, that the variable factors should contribute, perhaps through expert testimony, to narrow tailoring of community notification to each registrant’s individualized situation.”

“RRAS” stands for Registrant Risk Assessment Scale. A similar scale exists with regard to pre-trial detention recommendations. The pre-trial detention decision scale contains scores from 1 to 6 that predict the likelihood that (1) the defendant will fail to appear in court and (2) the likelihood s/he will commit a new offense if released.