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What Happens if I Fail to Register as a Sex Offender?

Posted on: April 11, 2022

There are many ways in which someone might be convicted of a sex crime. Most convictions for sex crimes will send you to prison. Once you are paroled, you are required to register as a sex offender in accordance with New Jersey law. But some people might choose to skip registering as a sex offender.

If you are convicted of a sex crime and do not register as a sex offender per state law, you could find yourself back in prison. The following provides a closer look at sex offender registry laws in New Jersey and penalties for failing to register as required.

Imprisonment for Parole or Probation Violations

A sex offender might obtain early release from prison. While on supervised release from prison or on probation for a sex crime, it is critically important for the offender to abide by the requirement to register for the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry.

But an offender might not register as stated in their state’s law. If that offender does not register and the state finds out, a judge is likely to put that person back in prison to serve out the rest of the sentence.

A judge also might rule that an unregistered individual who is out on probation is in violation of their probationary terms. That could earn a trip to prison with additional time added for not registering as a sex offender.

Megan’s Law Requirements Must Be Met

New Jersey’s Megan’s Law says sex offenders who are convicted of certain crimes must register for the state’s sex offender registry. Anyone who is convicted of the following crimes must register as a sex offender:

  • Aggravated criminal sexual contact
  • Child pornography
  • Criminal sexual contact with a child
  • Prostituting a child or soliciting sex from a child
  • Sexual assault

Offenders who are convicted of kidnappings that include sexual offenses against children could also be required to report for the sex offender registry. A conviction for endangering a child while engaging in debauchery or immoral acts might also necessitate registration on the sex offender registry.

The registration requirement lasts for the rest of their registrant’s life. When convicted sex offenders move, they must update their personal information so that the sex offender registry remains current.

A sex offender might move to another state, but the requirement to register as a sex offender goes wherever the convicted offender goes. So, if you are required to register in New Jersey, but then move to another state, you will have to register as a sex offender in that state.

Failure to Register Is a Third Degree Felony Offense

If you are required to register as a sex offender but do not, you could be convicted of a felony. New Jersey law says it is a third-degree felony to ignore the requirement to register as a sex offender.

Anyone who is convicted of failing to register as a sex offender could be imprisoned for between three and five years. The court also could impose a fine of up to $15,000.

A felony conviction could cause you to lose the right to vote in public elections. You also would lose the right to own, possess, or have access to a firearm.

Accurate Information Must Be Provided

It is crucial to provide accurate information when registering for New Jersey’s sex offender registry. Any incorrect information may be used later as a reason to charge you with a felony for not registering properly.

You should check the information provided to ensure that it is up to date and accurate. If any changes occur, you need to update them right away.

Moving, marrying, changing your legal name, or other pertinent changes must be updated in the registry. You can do that in the same manner that you used when registering. You should make a record of your attempts to update your registration information in case something goes wrong.

Legal Defenses for Alleged Megan’s Law Violations

It is possible to present a legal defense against a charge of third-degree felony for not registering as a sex offender. But the defense needs to be very sound and must help to affirm the innocence of the accused. 

If you are accused of not abiding by Megan’s Law, a judge or jury might decide your fate. You would need to create reasonable doubt that you intentionally skipped submitting your information to the New Jersey sex offender registry.

You would need the help of an experienced criminal lawyer to help you present the best possible legal defense. The following are just some of the ways to defend against a felony charge for violating Megan’s Law.

Prosecutor is Mistaken

The best possible defense against a charge of not registering as a sex offender is to show that you provided your information in accordance with Megan’s Law, abiding by the requirement.

There are many ways in which your information might not be published. And none of them would be your fault if you made an honest attempt to register.

Maybe an employee forgot to upload your data. The computer system might not have been working properly. Maybe someone accidentally deleted your registration information. Database systems and the people who use them are not perfect. It is possible to make mistakes that affect others – including sex offenders who try to register as required by law.

It helps to obtain proof that you provided your real information for the registry. Then if you are accused of not registering, you can show that you followed the necessary steps to show that it is not your fault that your record did not appear on the system.

Lack of Registration was a Mistake

Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. But humans are prone to making mistakes. An honest mistake might lead to you not registering as required by law.

It is possible that someone who is required to register as a sex offender is unaware of the need to do so. The court might not have made it clear when you were convicted for the initial offense. Maybe your attorney erred and said you are not required to register.

If you can present a sound reason why you did not register as required by Megan’s Law, a local prosecutor might be persuaded to drop the third-degree felony charge. You must be willing to register and present your information.

When someone is accused of not registering for the sex offender registry, a good defense begins with registering. That will help to show that you are willing and able to register.

Possible Removal from Megan’s Law Requirements

If you are subject to Megan’s Law sex offender registry requirements, it might be possible to remove them.

Someone who is convicted of a qualifying offense but has served out the sentence with no repeat offenses, you may eventually become eligible for removal from the sex offender registry. The offender must go at least 15 years with no repeat offenses to become eligible for removal.

If no prison sentence was imposed, the 15 years accrue from the date of your conviction. If you were imprisoned, the 15-year count begins on the date you were released from custody.

It is important to show evidence that you are not a threat to society. Learning a job skill, holding a job, and getting an education are examples of ways that you could show are not a threat. An experienced attorney could help to file the motion to remove you from the sex offender registration requirement.

A Freehold Criminal Lawyer at Ellis Law, P.C., Can Help to Uphold the Rights of the Accused

If you or someone you know is accused of not abiding by Megan’s Law registration requirements, a Freehold criminal lawyer at Ellis Law, P.C., can help to uphold your rights. You can call 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Freehold, New Jersey. We represent clients in Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.