Standing to Seek Megan’s Law Termination (Part 2)

by | Mar 4, 2024 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The Appellate Division continued in relevant part: J.R. relies heavily on his assertion that, regardless of his residency in another state, he nevertheless continues to have Megan’s Law “status” in New Jersey. We reject this argument because there is no legal “status” as a Megan’s Law offender–either there is a requirement to register in New Jersey or not. The word “status” appears nowhere in the statute and to the extent the term has appeared in published decisions, it refers to an offender’s statutory requirement to register in New Jersey, which is not present here. Cf. In re C.K. (2018) (Registrant “expressed his feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression resulting from his Megan’s Law status, . . . and his fear that his registrant status will interfere with his ability to one day be a normal parent.”); In re L.E. (App. Div. 2003) (“Registrants argue that . . . they are entitled to have their Megan’s Law status terminated because they were under the age of fourteen when their sex offenses were committed and are now over eighteen.”); In re Commitment of T.J. (App. Div. 2008) (“The judge commented on T.J.’s Megan’s Law status.”); State ex rel. D.A. (App. Div. 2006) (Registrant’s “tier classification determines to whom notice will be given of the juvenile’s Megan’s Law status.”). Thus, we reject J.R.’s assertion that this impalpable “status” gives him standing.

J.R. also claims he suffers negative effects from his New Jersey “status” because he is subject to the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 34 U.S.C. § 20911 to §20932, and International Megan’s Law, 34 U.S.C. § 21501 to § 21510. We find this argument unavailing because it is not based on a defensible reading of the statutes.

“Title I of the Adam Walsh Act–known as [SORNA]–establishes a national baseline for sex offender registration and requires that states receiving federal crime funds substantially comply with the guidelines it outlines.” C.K. (citing 34 U.S.C. § 20927, § 10151). “In effect, SORNA serves as model legislation that can be adopted in part or in whole by the states.”

Adam Walsh was a six-year-old who was abducted and murdered by a serial killer. His father, John Walsh, became the host of the popular television show “America’s Most Wanted.”