Standing to Seek Megan’s Law Termination (Part 3)

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

Judge Puglisi continued in relevant part: “SORNA classifies sex offenders into three risk tiers–Tiers I, II, and III–for registration and notification purposes, depending solely on the nature of the offense.” Id. at 62 (citing 34 U.S.C. § 20911). “The offender’s tier assignment, in turn, determines the duration of his registration requirements.” Ibid. (citing 34 U.S.C. § 20915(a)).

Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders, also known as International Megan’s Law, requires certain sex offenders to report intended international travel. See 34 U.S.C. § 21501 to § 21510, 18 U.S.C. § 2250. It defines a “covered sex offender” as “an individual who is a sex offender by reason of having been convicted of a sex offense against a minor,” 34 U.S.C. § 21502(3); and includes a “sex offender under SORNA,” 34 U.S.C. § 21502(9).

Thus, any federal registration or reporting requirements arise from J.R.’s conviction, not an intangible “status” in New Jersey, and he has not otherwise identified any case or statute in support of his contention. Because a New Jersey court’s decision on his motion to terminate would not impact any federal obligation under SORNA or International Megan’s Law, these requirements also do not give rise to standing.

We note the current Megan’s Law Bench Manual § 904, dated August 2020, contains the following statement: “At the Megan’s Law meeting at Judicial College on November 24, 2015, the Megan’s Law judges agreed that registrants residing in another state should file for termination of the registration obligation in the state where they are domiciled.” This view oversimplifies the issue of standing. We recognize that sex offender registration and notification laws are widely used. The statutes, regulations, and laws addressing sex offender registration and notification in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, the five principal United States territories, and over 125 federally recognized Indian Tribes are varied and complex.

There is a natural motivation for states to impose the strictest Megan’s Law requirements permitted by law. Otherwise, they create motivation for sex offenders to move to their states.