Most people have heard about and understand the basic law associated with Megan's Law. The law refers to a type of federal or state statute passed after the death of Megan Kanka, a seven year old girl from Hamilton, New Jersey who was sexually assaulted and later killed by a neighbor in 1994. Megan's Law, in the State of New Jersey, applies to those individuals who have been convicted of certain enumerated sex crimes.
New Jersey first enacted this legislation in response to Megan Kanka's death and thereafter the United States and most other states adopted similar legislation. Megan's Law essentially requires, in addition to any sentence imposed by the court, that individuals convicted of Megan's Law offenses register with local police. In addition, such individuals must also notify law enforcement authorities whenever they move to a new location. These statutes establish a notification process to provide information about individuals found guilty of such crimes to law enforcement agencies and in certain situations to the public. The scope and extent of notification in New Jersey is based upon a risk assessment. In New Jersey individuals convicted of Megan's Law offenses are "tiered" as a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 offender. Tier 1 requires the least amount of notification and Tier 3 the most amount of notification.
One aspect of a Megan's Law sentence in New Jersey that is not generally known or fully understood is "Parole Supervision for Life." In New Jersey, in addition to the penalties referenced above and in addition to the significant stigmas associated with a conviction for a sex crime, individuals convicted of the following crimes must also be sentenced to Parole Supervision for Life ("PSL"):
- aggravated sexual assault;
- sexual assault;
- aggravated criminal sexual contact;
- certain kidnapping crimes where the victim is less than 16;
- certain offenses involving endangering the welfare of a child;
- luring; and
- attempts to commit any of the above- referenced crimes.
PSL means exactly what it sounds like - being on parole and abiding by the terms and conditions of parole and a parole officer for the rest of one's life. If such an individual violates the terms of his parole, incarceration above and beyond the original sentence may occur. While such individuals may petition the court after fifteen (15) years for release from parole supervision, the decision lies exclusively with the court.
Unlike the normal terms and conditions of parole (which can be difficult and onerous) an individual sentenced to PSL may have his or her access to the internet monitored and/or curtailed. More particularly, such individuals can be prohibited from accessing or using a computer or any other device with internet access; can be required to submit to periodic unannounced examinations of their computers or internet devices by a parole officer, law enforcement officer or assigned technology specialist including the retrieval and copying of all data from the computer or device; can be required to submit to the installation on the person's computer, at the person's expense, one or more hardware or software systems to monitor internet use; and can be required to submit to any other appropriate restrictions concerning the person's use or access to a computer or to a device with internet capability.
Parole Supervision for Life can significantly affect one's life - for the rest of one's life. While it is only one aspect of a Megan's Law sentence, it can be the most enduring and difficult part of such a sentence simply because it can last forever.
To learn more about this topic, and to talk to one of our experience attorneys, call Brickfield & Donahue today at (201) 488-7707
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"Keep in mind that nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice. The law can and often does change. If you have a specific legal issue or problem, consult an attorney."