TRENTON, N.J. (CN) — A lawyer for New Jersey urged the state Supreme Court on Monday for a strict reading of a law that lets registered sex offenders off the registry so long as they keep a clean record for 15 years.
“Conviction means what we say it does, and that’s the conviction that triggers Megan’s Law,” said Special Deputy Attorney General Frank DuCoat, referencing the 1994 law enacted after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a neighbor who had already been convicted twice for sexual assault.
The law allows information to be provided to law enforcement and the public about the whereabouts of sex offenders, but lawmakers added a provision in 2002 that gives offenders a chance to be removed from the list if they do not commit any other offenses within 15 years of conviction.
Arguments before the state high court on Monday focused on two sex offenders, referred to only as H.D. and J.M., who were convicted on sexual assault charges in 1994 and 1998. Both remained offense free until 2001 when J.M. was convicted of computer-related theft, and H.D. convicted for failing to register as a sex offender.
Though the state says the second convictions forfeited their chance to get off the list forever, the offenders say the 15-year window should reset with every new conviction, meaning they should have gotten another chance at removal from the list in 2016, 15 years after their second convictions.