Standing to Seek Megan’s Law Termination (Part 1)

by | Mar 2, 2024 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

On January 31, 2024, a three-judge appellate panel decided the Middlesex County case of IN the Matter of Registrant J.R. The principal issue before the Court under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 concerned whether the resident of another state had standing to seek termination of his New Jersey Megan’s Law requirements.

Judge Lisa Puglisi, temporarily assigned to the Appellate Division from the Ocean County Superior Court, wrote for the panel in relevant part: In determining whether J.R. had standing, the judge examined both Megan’s Law and SVORA. He found J.R.’s conviction for endangering the welfare of a child was not a “reasonable equivalent” to any of the sexual offenses enumerated in SVORA at that time. Thus, J.R. was required to register in Montana because he was convicted of an offense for which he was required to register in New Jersey. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-23-502(10)(a)(xvii).

The judge also correctly determined J.R. had no New Jersey registration requirement while he lived in Montana. He was not enrolled in school or work here, nor did he intend to be. Therefore, he was not “a person required to register” under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f).

As the judge found, J.R. had no stake in the outcome of the matter because his registration obligation in Montana was dependent on his prior conviction of an offense requiring registration, which would remain so regardless of the outcome of his motion. He could not show that he would suffer harm in the court’s denying the motion, as it did not impact his Montana registration obligation; conversely, he could not show he would benefit in the court’s granting the motion, as again, a favorable decision would not terminate his registration obligation in Montana. Because J.R. was not facing or suffering harm that a New Jersey court could address, he lacked standing to have a New Jersey court decide his motion. For these reasons, J.R.’s motion was also moot and not ripe for adjudication and was correctly dismissed for failing to present a justiciable controversy.

The recitation of facts gives the impression that the registrant intended to move back to New Jersey. He likely did not disclose this as part of his petition because he did not want to alert the New Jersey authorities of his plans.