Megan's Law Tiers | Tier Hearings | Criminal Defense

Help with Megan’s Law Tier Hearings – Tier One, Tier Two, Tier Three

Maynard & Sumner, LLC

In New Jersey, a local prosecutor will fill out the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS) to place a Megan’s Law registrant into a tier.  (Read more about the RRAS here).  Depending on the RRAS score, a Megan’s Law registrant will be placed into one of three tiers:

 

Tier One – Megan’s Law registrants between 0 and 36 points.  This is the lowest possible tier level and includes registrants who are very unlikely to reoffend.

Tier Two – Megan’s Law registrants between 37 and 73 points.  This is the middle tier level and includes registrants who, theoretically, present a moderate risk of committing another Megan’s Law offense.

Tier Three – Megan’s Law registrants with 74 points or more.  This is the highest possible tier level and includes registrants who, theoretically, present the highest risk of committing another Megan’s Law sex offense.

 

Why does the tier level matter?  Because, depending on the Megan’s Law tier, a registrant may be subject to different kinds of community notification.  Some Megan’s Law registrants may have their private information placed on the Internet, have a GPS bracelet latched to their ankle, have the police walk door-to-door notifying neighbors of the registrant’s presence, and/or have notification distributed to local schools and other institutions.  The “scope of notification,” as this is called, is based almost exclusively off of the Megan’s Law tier, which itself is based on the RRAS score.

Although there are major exceptions — and we suggest you talk to an experienced attorney for legal advice — the following lists the kind of notification for each Megan’s Law tier level:

 

Tier One – These Megan’s Law registrants will often receive no community notification.  Tier One Megan’s Law registrants will generally not have their private information placed on the Internet registry.  However, there is a new law that attempts to place so-called “Repetitive and Compulsive” registrants on the Internet regardless of their Megan’s Law tier level.

Tier Two – These Megan’s Law registrants are often subject to Internet notification and school/organization notification.  Essentially, this means that private information (including a picture of the Megan’s Law registrant) will be published on the internet and may be distributed to local schools and certain other institutions, depending on the nature of the original sex offense.  However, there are major exceptions — please speak to a knowledgeable attorney to learn more about stopping certain kinds of notification.

Tier Three – These Megan’s Law registrants may have a GPS bracelet attached to their ankle, and may have the police walk door-to-door, notifying all neighbors within a certain radius.  Additionally, these registrants may be subject to Internet publication and school/organization notification.  Again, there are exceptions; always seek out the advice of experienced lawyers for guidance.

 

Our attorneys believe that Megan’s Law is overly-broad, and that far too many people are placed in Tier Two and Tier Three who do not present a risk of harm to the community.  The science is clear: Megan’s Law registrants are far less likely to commit another offense than the general prison population, and significantly less likely to commit another Megan’s Law sex offense than the general population believes.  Most scientific articles reveal that fewer than one in ten Megan’s Law registrants will commit another sex crime.

If you need legal help in an upcoming tier hearing, or if you want to reduce your tier, do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys.  Our law firm has helped many clients like you.

Complicated | Legal Help | Criminal Defense | Megan's Law

Megan’s Law Tier Hearings – The Registrant Risk Assessment Scale

Maynard & Sumner, LLC

The Registrant Risk Assessment Scale — or RRAS, for short — is a score-sheet used to determine the level of danger posed by each person on Megan’s Law in the State of New Jersey.  A person on Megan’s Law is often called a “registrant.”  The RRAS places each registrant into one of three tiers: Tier One, Tier Two, or Tier Three.

After a person has been convicted of a Megan’s Law sex offense, the sentencing court will place the individual on Megan’s Law (and usually Parole Supervision for Life).  When the person is released from incarceration — or if the person is not sentenced to jail or prison — a local prosecutor will review the registrant’s file.  The prosecutor will then score the registrant in each of the 13 separate categories of the RRAS, resulting in a score between 0 and 111 points.  Depending on a person’s score on the RRAS, he or she will be placed into one of three tiers:

 

Tier One — RRAS between 0 and 36 points;

Tier Two — RRAS between 37 and 73 points;

Tier Three — RRAS 74 points or higher;

 

Each tier has significantly different consequences; placement in some tiers may include Internet publication of private/personal information, a GPS monitoring bracelet, door-to-door notification, and notification to local schools and institutions.  You can read more about the differences between the tiers by clicking here.

The 13 categories used on the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale are as follows:

 

  1.  The Degree of Force– was there any threatening behavior or violence used in the commission of the offense?
  1.  Degree of Contact– did the underlying offense include penetration?
  1.  Age of Victim– was the victim under 18?  Under 13?
  1.  Victim Selection– was the victim a stranger? an acquaintance? a family member?
  1.  Number of Offenses/Victims– how many victims were involved in the offense conduct?
  1.  Duration of Offensive Behavior– over how long a period of time did the offense conduct occur?  More than a year?  More than two years?
  1.  Length of Time Since Last Offense– how long has the registrant been in the community without committing a Megan’s Law sex offense?  More than a year?  More than five years?
  1.  History of Anti-Social Acts– has the registrant committed other non-Megan’s Law offenses?  If so, how extensive is the history of such behavior?
  1.  Response to Treatment– how has the Megan’s Law registrant performed in sex offense therapy?
  1.  Substance Abuse– does — or did — the registrant have a drug abuse history?
  1.  Therapeutic Support– is the Megan’s Law registrant currently receiving therapy?  Does he or she see a psychologist on a regular basis, or has he or she been successfully discharged from therapy?
  1.  Residential Support– how stable is the Megan’s Law registrant’s housing?  Is there familial or community support?
  1.  Employment and Educational Stability– is the Megan’s Law registrant employed or attending school?

 

If a person is scored in the Tier Two or Tier Three range, the prosecutor will notify him or her of the RRAS score, and give a date to appear in court to argue the score before a Superior Court judge.  Both the Megan’s Law registrant and the prosecutor will make arguments in front of the judge, and the judge will make his or her determination as to the Megan’s Law tier.

If are on Megan’s Law and you disagree with the prosecutor’s RRAS score, we highly advise you to seek the advice of a lawyer.  Even if you do not believe you can reduce your score, there are special arguments an attorney can make to reduce your tier, depending on your situation.

Megan’s Law is a new, developing area of law and can be complex to litigate.  If you are subject to Megan’s Law and need legal advice, do not hesitate to contact our office.  Our attorneys have extensive experience with the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS), and are ready to help guide you in Megan’s Law tier hearing matters.  We have successfully reduced many registrants’ tiers.

Protection | Criminal Defense

Megan’s Law requirements can be appealed

On behalf of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Megan’s Law on Friday, December 19, 2014.

Once the law in New Jersey and elsewhere was, “Do the crime, do the time,” meaning that convicts had to pay with years of their lives spent behind bars. But after successfully completing their sentences and any parole requirements, they were free to resume their lives in society.

However, after the passage of Megan’s Law, this changed. Now, no matter how much time was served or how much rehabilitation convicts have displayed, the requirements for Community Supervision for Life and/or Parole Supervision for Life can create an onerous burden on those who have turned their lives around and not re-offended.

Ex-convicts subject to the stringent requirements of Megan’s Law can have incredible difficulty simply securing employment and housing. Information gathered from the offenders includes the following:

— Name

— Photograph

— Age

— Birthdate

— Sex

— Race

— Physical description, including height, weight, hair and eye color

— Social security number

— Address of legal residence

— Address of any temporary residences

— Place of employment

— Date and location of each conviction, acquittal by reason of insanity and adjudication

— Fingerprints

— Indictment number

— Description of the crime(s) requiring registration

— Other information deemed necessary by state Attorney General to assess risk of recidivism, including evidentiary genetic markers when available

Our firm can help ex-convicts terminate some of these requirements if the following conditions are met:

— Person has been on the sex offender registry for 15 years

— There have been no subsequent convictions

— Person is not a threat to the community

Contact our office to learn if you qualify for an appeal on these grounds.

Megan's Law | PSL/CSL/Parole | Criminal Defense Law Firm

What happens when a sex offender is convicted of a new offense?

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Megan’s Law on Thursday, December 4, 2014.

In a recent report published by CBS News, a Monmouth County, New Jersey sex offender was convicted of possession of child pornography on a file-sharing program that is accessible to other users. The registered sex offender was originally placed on Megan’s Law in 2008 for possession of child pornography. In the New Jersey statutes, the crime of possession child pornography is found under the child endangerment laws. In 2013, the endangering the welfare of a child statute was amended. One of the primary amendments was redefining the definition of “distribution” of child pornography. Now, anyone who is found to possess child pornography on a file-sharing program may be charged with distribution, even if no other individual accessed the files. The Monmouth County man will be sentenced in March 2015.

What happens when a registered sex offender is convicted of a new offense? The outcomes may vary depending on whether the offender is on Community Supervision for Life (CSL) or Parole Supervision for Life (PSL), or whether he/she is only registered under Megan’s Law. If the individual is on CSL or PSL, he/she may be charged with a violation of his/her parole conditions. A violation of CSL is a third degree crime, and the individual may have his/her parole revoked. A violation of PSL may lead to a parole revocation. If the individual is only on Megan’s Law, he/she may not be charged with a violation of Megan’s Law, but it will affect his/her ability to terminate his/her registration obligation in the future. If the new offense is not a sex offense, he/she may have the ability to termination his/her sex offender status after 15 years. However, if the new offense is a sex offense, as in the case of the Monmouth County man, an individual is forever barred from termination and will be required to register for life.

United States | Out-of-State | Parole Transfer

Megan’s Law could keep you from moving to or from New Jersey

On behalf of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Megan’s Law on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Registered sex offenders face a number of regulations that can severely limit their community participation. Since the inception of Megan’s Law, which mandates that convicted sex offenders register in state and Internet registries, the complications have only increased.

It is true that everyone has to pay for their alleged crimes, but registries can create extreme obstacles, making it difficult for those convicted to become productive members of society. For example, property owners who access the registry might choose not to rent to convicted sex offenders. Another example is the difficulty those convicted face in finding gainful employment.

Such extreme monitoring and crime prevention measures are necessary in some instances, but the results are intrusive and often self-defeating to someone trying to overcome his or her past. It is difficult to leave behind one’s mistakes and take a proactive approach to living as a law-abiding citizen when the very laws a person wants to live by makes it seem impossible.

Many convicted sex offenders think the answer to their problems is moving to another location, far away from the backlash of their conviction. This certainly sounds like a great idea, but it is far easier said than done.

Why is it so hard? Because sex offenders in New Jersey and elsewhere will likely remain monitored for a very long time, even for life in some circumstances. This means moving out of the area can be a time-consuming and difficult process, especially without outside assistance. Successfully acquiring an out of state parole transfer typically means getting help from an attorney in your area.

If you would like further details about how to move while on parole, please visit our Megan’s Law or out of state web pages.

Cellphone Information | Social Networking | Constitution

Can NJ prosecute for acts of sexual assault occurring in another country?

On behalf of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Sex Crimes on Monday, September 29, 2014.

Over one week ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments in two sexual assault cases in which the illegal conduct occurred overseas. In these cases, State v. Sumulikoski and State v. Sopel, Sumulikosti and Sopel, both former employees of Paramus Catholic High School, are accused of sexually assaulting three students while acting as chaperones on a school trip to Germany. The Court has been asked to determine whether the defendants can be prosecuted in the State of New Jersey when the allegedly illegal conduct was committed in Germany. Does the State of New Jersey has the jurisdiction to prosecute criminal conduct that occurs outside of the State?

Generally, the State of New Jersey cannot prosecute a criminal case that occurred in another state. For example, if a New Jersey resident commits an act of endangering the welfare of a child in Pennsylvania, New Jersey lacks the jurisdiction to prosecute. The offender could be charged with a crime in the State of Pennsylvania. The reverse is also true. If an individual from Pennsylvania travels to New Jersey and commits an act of criminal sexual contact, the Pennsylvania resident may be charged NJ.

In the cases at bar, the State argues that the criminal conduct began in New Jersey when Sumulokoski and Sopel volunteered to be chaperones for the school trip. (It is a crime to commit a sexual act with a minor under the age of 18, if the actor maintains a supervisory or disciplinary role over the minor.) The criminal defense counters that these two men did not have the intent to commit acts of sexual assault at the time they volunteers, and if any illegal acts were committed in Germany, it is within Germany’s jurisdiction to prosecute.

If you are in legal trouble, contact our experienced attorneys.

Source: “N.J. Justices Hear German School Trip Sex Case,” by Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal, September 25, 2014.

GPS Tracking | Sex Offense | Megan's Law | PSL/CSL

Retroactive application of GPS-Monitoring of Sex Offender Found Unconstitutional

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Megan’s Law on Monday, September 22, 2014.

In a 4-3 opinion, the Supreme Court of New Jersey announced that they found retroactive application of GPS-monitoring to a sex offender who committed his originating sex offense twenty-three (23) years ago, a violation of Ex Post Facto laws of the United States and New Jersey Constitutions. In the matter of Riley v. New Jersey Parole Board, Riley was originally convicted of second degree attempted sexual assault of a minor in 1986, and was sentenced to prison. Shortly after his release in 2009, Riley was categorized as a Tier 3 offender (highest risk of re-offense) under Megan’s Law by the Superior Court. Shortly after his tiering, Riley received notice from the NJ State Parole Board that he was be placed on the Sex Offender Monitoring Act (SOMA), i.e. 24-hour GPS monitoring, on account of his Tier 3 status; however, Riley was not sentenced to Parole Supervision for Life (PSL) at the time of his original conviction because parole supervision did not exist at the time. Riley appealed the Parole Board’s retroactive application of SOMA, arguing that it was a violation of his constitutional rights.

In 2011, the Appellate Division reversed the Parole Board’s determination, stating that retroactive application of SOMA to Riley was unconstitutional, and violated the Ex Post Facto clauses of the United States and New Jersey Constitutions. The Parole Board appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that GPS-monitoring is a civil remedy intended to protect the public from sex offender recidivism, and that SOMA is not punitive. (Note, civil remedies may be applied retroactively, however, punitive measures may not.) Therefore, the NJ Supreme Court was asked to determine whether GPS-monitoring was punitive.

On this question, the Supreme Court made the following statement:

“In the end, we conclude that SOMA’s adverse effects are ‘so punitive . . . as to negate the State’s intent to deem it only civil and regulatory.’ [Internal citation omitted] (“The physical and practical realities of the [GPS monitoring] program . . . transform the effect of the scheme from regulatory to punitive.”). The retroactive application of SOMA to George Riley twenty-three years after he committed the sexual offense at issue and after he fully completed his criminal sentence violates the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States and New Jersey Constitutions.”

In conclusion, the matter was remanded to the New Jersey Parole Board for enforcement of the judgment.

If you need representation, do not hesitate to contact our legal experts.

Jail | Prison | Freedom | Criminal Defense

Judge says wrongfully convicted man is innocent of sex crimes

On behalf of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Sex Crimes on Friday, August 1, 2014.

It took many years, but a Texas man wrongfully convicted of rape has been vindicated and with no action on his own part. A judge recommended that the Dallas man be exonerated of all charges after DNA testing proved he did not commit the crime. Unfortunately, the proof came too late to save the defendant from serving 12 long years behind bars.

The New Jersey Herald reports that this was a history-making event because neither the convicted man nor his attorneys requested the DNA testing. Instead, the man’s innocence was revealed by way of systematic DNA testing and screening conducted by the Conviction Integrity Unit. Helmed by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, the unit systematically reviews previously untested rape kits whether or not the defendant has requested the testing.

While Watkins has already helped exonerate 33 other wrongfully convicted men, this is the first time ever that a prosecutor’s office initiated the testing instead of a defendant or representatives of a defendant. Reportedly, close to a dozen men who have already been exonerated with help from Watkins were on location to greet the defendant after the judge pronounced him innocent last week.

The question of the wrongfully convicted man’s legal exoneration will be put forth in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but it is unclear when this will happen. Hopefully, the wait won’t be too long as the newly cleared man is ill with Sickle Cell Anemia and currently lives in a nursing home.

Since Craig Watkins started the Conviction Integrity Unit, several other prosecutors across America have created similar projects to review potential wrongful convictions. This is good news as many of those facing serious charges have a perhaps unfounded distrust of prosecutors. This case shows the public how two seemingly opposing sides can come together to make great things happen for those accused of sex crimes and other felonies, even here in New Jersey.

Source:  New Jersey Herald, “Judge says Texas man innocent in rape” Jul. 25, 2014

Megan's Law | PSL/CSL | Nicole's Law

What you should know about Megan’s Law in New Jersey

On behalf of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Megan’s Law on Friday, August 22, 2014.

If you have been arrested for violating Megan’s Law, or want to know how to lessen the impact of this law on your day-to-day life, don’t despair. Many New Jersey attorneys have successfully argued to have a portion of the law overturned on behalf of their clients. The point is, don’t give up on working to return your life to normal after a sex offender conviction. Your first step: learn aboutMegan’s Law and find out how it works in New Jersey.

If you don’t know, and many do not, Megan’s Law is the widely-accepted term used to signify state laws requiring convicted sex offender registration and public notification. Each state has its own set of laws regarding the registration and notification of sex offenders, including New Jersey. What the law is designed for is to alert community members about sex offenders who live and work near their location.

In New Jersey, Megan’s Law requires that convicted sex offenders register with their local police department. This must be done within a specific amount of time once they have been released from prison. The other part of Megan’s Law pertains to notifying the public that you are currently in the area. For this portion of Megan’s Law, sex offenders are placed within a tier system based on their risk to offend again that dictates the type of notification required.

— Tier One: This tier represents the least risk to residents and only requires that sex offenders notify victims and law enforcement personnel.

— Tier Two: Perceived as a moderate risk, this tier requires offenders to notify additional entities such as educational institutions, summer camps, day care centers and organizations.

— Tier Three: Regarded as the greatest risk for re-offending, the law for people in this tier requires broad public notification. This could mean passing out pamphlets to the public, putting up posters or making announcements by way of the Internet.

Understandably, the third tier presents the most disruptions for those who have served their time and now seek to become a contributing member of society. The former sex offenders placed in this category typically need the most legal assistance to lessen the law’s impact on trying to live day-to-day in their communities.

Source: National Institute of Justice, “About Megan’s Law” Aug. 21, 2014

Criminal Defense | Police Investigation

NJ law agencies required to retain sex assault evidence for 5-years

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Sex Crimes on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

In a directive issued by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, acting Attorney General John Hoffman has ordered county prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies to maintain evidence collected from an alleged sexual assault for five years. Currently, the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies are only required to maintain sex assault evidence for three months. Evidence that is not maintained, is destroyed. This is a statewide directive, and is to be applied uniformly by each county.

The AG’s Office reasons that some victims of sexual assault may be hesitant to pursue criminal prosecution or participate in an investigation due the emotional difficulties that arise from the incident. Therefore, maintaining evidence for at least five years allows the victim to pursue criminal charges if he/she changes his/her mind. The directive also allows for county prosecutor’s offices to maintain the evidence indefinitely per their discretion. By law, there is no statute of limitations on prosecuting a crime of sexual assault.

Various organizations throughout the State support this directive. The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault applauded the AG’s Office’s dramatic increase to existing protocol, as they have been lobbying for this change since March 2014. The New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL-NJ) has responded positively to this directive. Just as the evidence can be used to convict an individual of sex assault, it can also exonerate a person who is under investigation.

Source: “A.G. Office Orders Long Retention of Rape Evidence,” Michael Booth, The New Jersey Law Journal, July 11, 2014.