Last month, a New Jersey lawmaker introduced a bill that would forbid prosecutors from entering into plea bargains with those accused of New Jersey Megan’s Law offenses if the plea bargain would result in the accused not be required to register as a sex offender – effectively taking away some of the discretion afforded to prosecutors in such situations.
New Jersey Megan’s Law
Under Megan’s Law in New Jersey, a person convicted of a sex crime can face severe living restrictions years after they have finished their jail sentence. For example, Megan’s Law not only requires the offender to register with local police, but they also must notify law enforcement of any changes in address or employment.
Moreover, New Jersey offender registrants must also deal with Community Supervision for Life (CSL) – which often allows parole officers to enter into a registrant’s home just to check up on them.
New Jersey Assembly Bill 3346
If passed, the recently introduced bill – Assembly Bill 3346 – would require that:
In any case where a person has been charged with or indicted for a sex offense […] the prosecutor shall not offer or accept a plea agreement which permits that person to plead guilty to an offense for which the person would not be required to register pursuant to [New Jersey’s Megan’s Law].
As with any type of crime, sex crimes have varying degrees of severity. This particular bill, if passed, would eliminate the prosecutors ability to assess the severity and details of the case in order to determine whether a plea deal is appropriate under the circumstances – unless of course if the plea agreement would still include registration under Megan’s Law.
These concerns may be one of the reasons this bill – along with versions presented in prior legislative sessions – have failed to gain traction.
The living restrictions and intrusions established by New Jersey’s Megan’s Law are quite serious, and thus should only be attempted to be implemented after careful deliberation. This recent bill, if passed, could likely take a prosecutor’s discretion out of the equation when considering plea deals that could potentially impact Megan’s Law registration – thus furthering your need to make sure your rights are protected if ever charged with a sex crime in New Jersey.
However, even without the passage of this most recent bill, sex crime convictions carry severe penalties in New Jersey. If you have been charged with a sex crime requiring registration under Megan’s Law, it is important to contact an experienced sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible.