Megan's Law

On October 31, 1994, the New Jersey State Legislature enacted the Registration and Community Notification Laws (RCNL), also known as Megan's Law.  The RCNL require certain convicted sexual offenders to register with law enforcement authorities and provide for community notification depending upon the degree of risk that these offenders will commit sexual crimes in the future. The statutes apply to those who have been convicted of specified sexual offenses and to those who were convicted of a more narrow set of offenses prior to enactment of the RCNL and whose criminal behavior was found to have repetitive and compulsive characteristics.

The requirement of community notification and its scope hinge upon the risk of re-offense which, in turn, defines the "tier" or category in which the offender is placed.

Tier One

 Applies where the risk of re-offense is low.  Under Tier One, all law enforcement agencies likely to encounter the offender must be notified.

Tier Two

Applies where the risk of re-offense is moderate.  Under Tier Two, all law enforcement agencies and schools (public and Private) likely to encounter the offender must be notified.  The statute also requires notification to organizations in the community, including religious and youth organizations likely to encounter the offender.  Under the Court's decision, individual determinations must be made concerning which institutions or organizations own or operate an establishment where children or women are cared for and that are "likely to encounter" the offender.  The notice to all such organizations must specifically direct them not to notify anyone else.

Tier Three

Applies where the risk of re-offense is high.  The statute requires that, in addition to the individuals, organizations and institutions required to be notified by Tier Two, notification as to Tier Three offenders must be sufficient to reach members of the public likely to encounter the person registered (i.e. individuals residing within a half mile radius of the offender's domicile).

Tier two and three includes all schools within the municipality likely to encounter the offender and schools and other institutions in adjacent municipalities if thought likely to encounter the offender.  Geographical proximity is to be a principal, but not the sole criterion. School notification will be accomplished through cooperation between the County Prosecutor's Office and local law enforcement.  It will be the responsibility of each school to take appropriate steps to educate and alert those staff members who are charged with the care and supervision of children, emphasizing that this information is intended to assist such staff members in the protection of their charges, not to provide notification to the community at large.

Guidance in providing this information to staff members is available from the Prosecutor's Office.  For example, the necessary information may be imparted by holding a meeting at a particular school and providing the information, along with advice regarding the safeguarding of the school's children to the appropriate staff members.

Each designated school will receive the offenders name and a recent photograph, along with a physical description, offense of which he or she was convicted, address, place of employment and/or schooling and vehicle license plate.

It should be stressed that law enforcement will carefully investigate all allegations of criminal conduct taken by any person against the offender, the offender's family, employer or school and will criminally prosecute where appropriate.

Any questions regarding Megan's Law may be directed to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, Telephone (856) 384-5500.

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