Interviewer: What is Megan’s Law and what crimes does it apply to?
Tom Chaves: Megan’s Law, as most people know, is the law that was named after Megan Kanka, who was a girl that was murdered by a neighbor across the street who was convicted of several serious sexual offenses involving children prior to moving across the street into the neighborhood. Her family had no idea that he was a sex offender and after she was murdered, they campaigned their local legislator to enact what’s now come to be known as Megan’s Law . In essence, the law provides that certain sex offenders must register as sex offenders with public notification varying depending on the nature of the charges and classification by the Prosecutor’s Office. All series sexual offenses such as aggravated sexual assault and sexual contact with a minor require registration.
Megan’s Law May Officially Have a Different Name in Another State But Generally it’s Always Referred to as Megan’s Law
They obviously have different names in different states but, generally, they’re always referred to as Megan’s Law even if they’re not in New Jersey.
People with Convictions From Out of State who Move to New Jersey are Also Subjected to as Megan’s Law
It can also apply to people who move to New Jersey, who have out of state convictions for sexual related offenses.
Sex Offenders are Named on the List and Classified by the Prosecutor’s Office
Interviewer: But it’s actually that you’re being registered as a sex offender, right?
Tom Chaves: Right. In other words, there is a registry which exists of the sex offenders. Then, the next thing that happens after the people are placed on the list is that they are put in one of three tiers, what they call tier 1, 2 or 3, and that tiering is done by the prosecutor’s office based on a series of factors with respect to what risk these individuals might pose to the community at large and that will then determine whether the prosecutor’s office designates them to be in what they call tier 1, tier 2 or tier 3.
For Tier 1 Only the Local Police Are Aware of Who Has Been Named in Megan’s List
Each of those three tiers has different requirements for notification. So, the most minimal one is the tier 1 notification which just requires that the person go on the list and they’re registered with local police and that they’ll be notified about this but essentially it doesn’t go to anyone else other than the local police to be aware of the fact that the person is on the Megan’s list.
For Tier 2 and Tier 3 Offenders, Their Names are Displayed on an Internet Registry of Sex Offenders
Tier 2 and tier 3 have additional requirements with respect to schools in the area, community organizations that deal with children and so forth. And in addition to that, for both tier 2 and tier 3, the person goes on an internet registry of sex offenders that’s run by the New Jersey State Police which is known as the Megan’s Law Registry, which is available for the public. So, in other words, if someone suspects or wants to find out if a particular individual is on the Megan’s Law list, all they have to do is go to the state police website, type in the person’s name and there will be a photograph of the individual and what their conviction was for.
Being Listed in Megan’s Law Registry Can be Socially and Financially Detrimental to an Individual’s Well-Being
Many employers will now do background checks that include checking the Megan’s Law Registry in addition to a general criminal background check and anything connected to children such as a church, a camp, a school, all those various types of organizations which have involvement with children have standard policies now that require that they do the Megan’s Law Registry check which is available on the internet, so it’s easily done.
Tier 3 Offenders May Face Residential Restrictions and Ankle Monitoring Devices
The other thing that I’ve mentioned about Megan’s Law is that there’s also tier 3. This Tier 3 can be very restrictive with respect to where people can even live. Tier 3 can also require people to have ankle monitoring devices so that they’re limited in terms of where they go at certain hours and for certain activities. Parole supervision for life is also a requirement of this classification.