On behalf of James Maynard
A bill proposed by a New Jersey representative would expand Megan’s Law internationally.
Convicted sex offenders in New Jersey already have numerous reporting obligations. They must notify relevant authorities regarding their home and work. They are restricted from living in many areas and banned from pursuing careers in numerous fields. Convicted sex offenders even have restrictions on where they can volunteer, and sometimes, where they can travel. Now, Megan’s Law – which governs many regulating requirements for post-conviction sex offenders – may expand to include international partners.
A bill passed earlier this year in the U.S. House of Representatives would allow law enforcement in the U.S. to inform foreign countries about registered sex offenders traveling abroad. Thousands of convicted sex offenders receive passports every year. A sex offense conviction could make it difficult for New Jersey residents subjected to Megan’s Law requirements to travel for work, to see family, or go on vacation. If the bill becomes law, sex offenders will not be able to escape the stigma of their conviction even while in a foreign country.
“We’re seeing a growing amount of sex tourism,” said New Jersey Representative Chris Smith upon passage of the bill in the U.S. House. “They hop on planes and go to places for a week or two and abuse little children.” Despite the stated intent of the law, however, there is very little data on the amount of convicted sex offenders who actually travel abroad to commit crimes. Nor would the bill be that limited; instead, it would impose a broad restriction on many convicted sex offenders, regardless of their danger to the community.
The bill is currently in a Senate committee awaiting further action.
Number of restrictions and reporting obligations continually grows
Convicted sex offenders pose an easy target for politicians. That is one reason why sentencing has increased significantly in recent decades, and restrictions upon release have created situations where convicted sex offenders have essentially been restricted to homelessness. And whether any of these laws improve the safety of the community or prevent those accused from being charged with another offense are highly questionable. Some probation requirements even arguably violate the U.S. Constitution. For example, Delaware is facing a lawsuit over its state law of tracking certain convicted sex offenders through GPS devices, while making them pay a daily fee. It remains to be seen whether the law will be overturned.
Help in defending against sex crime charges.
People in New Jersey charged with a sex crime have everything on the line. A conviction can result in the loss of freedom, good name, and the ability to work and live in safe housing in the future. Even just being charged with a sex crime can significantly impact the lives of those accused.
At Maynard & Sumner, LLC, our attorneys understand the magnitude of the charges facing those accused of a sex crime. Contact our office to discuss potential legal defenses and options moving forward.
Keywords: Sex offender registration, sex crimes, travel.