If you or a family member is on Megan’s Law in the State of New Jersey, then you are aware of the tiering process and the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS), but how does it work? The RRAS is a score-sheet used to determine the level of danger posed by each person on Megan’s Law (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 13 separate categories on the RRAS, and come up with a score between 0 and 111 points. Depending on the RRAS score, a person will be placed in one of three tiers:
Tier One — the RRAS is between 0 and 36 points;
Tier Two — the RRAS is between 37 and 73 points;
Tier Three — the RRAS is 74 points or higher;
Each tier has significantly different consequences; placement in some tiers may include publication of private/personal information on the sex offender Internet Registry, a GPS monitoring bracelet, door-to-door notification, and notification to local schools and institutions. You can read more the differences between the tiers here.
The 13 categories used on the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale are as follows:
- The Degree of Force– was there any threatening behavior or violence used in the commission of the offense?
- Degree of Contact – did the underlying offense include penetration?
- Age of Victim – was the victim under 18? Under 13?
- Victim Selection – was the victim a stranger? an acquaintance? a family member?
- Number of Offenses/Victims – how many victims were involved in the offense conduct?
- Duration of Offensive Behavior – over how long a period of time did the offense conduct occur? More than a year? More than two years?
- 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?
- 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?
- Response to Treatment – how has the registrant performed in sex offense therapy?
- Substance Abuse – does — or did — the registrant have a drug abuse history?
- Therapeutic Support – is the 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?
- Residential Support – how stable is the registrant’s housing? Is there familial or community support?
- Employment and Educational Stability – is the registrant employed or attending school?
If a registrant is scored in the Tier Two or Tier Three range, the prosecutor will send out a letter notifying him or her of the RRAS score, and giving a date to appear in court to argue the score before a Superior Court judge. Both the 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 you have received a Megan’s Law tier determination from the local prosecutor’s office 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 New Jersey tier hearing matters. We have successfully reduced many registrants’ tiers, and avoided placement on the sex offender Internet Registry.