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Sex offender registry — the scarlet letter of the 21st century

New Jersey’s “Megan’s Law” (N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 through 2C:7-11, available for viewing here) was enacted in 1994 after the death of a young girl at the hands of a twice-convicted sex offender. The law requires that anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, kidnapping or any attempt to commit these crimes register with the state’s sex offender registry. This registry is available to the public and lists the names of the convicted sex offenders and their locations. Police use this information to warn neighbors and communities of the location and threat posed by the convicted sex offenders.

These registries, now used nationwide and modeled after the New Jersey law, have been called today’s modern “scarlet letter.” For the convicted sex offender, being publicized on these publicly available lists can inhibit their ability to live in certain communities or work in certain occupations, and generally curtails their ability to live freely once they have served their court-ordered sentences. Further, the effectiveness of sex offender registries has been challenged, and it has been proven that the registries do not statistically help prevent first-time sex offenses or reoffenders from committing further crimes. The negative impact on the rights of the individual accused and convicted outweighs the cost and utility of the program itself (the study can be viewed here).

If you have been accused or convicted of a sex offense, contact an experienced attorney right away. There are many offenses, some innocent in nature, that can have you accused and convicted for a sex crime and required to register with the state as a sex offender. Call 866-339-7801 or e-mail New Jersey sex crime defense attorneys at Jack Venturi Law today.

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