Some sex offenders who are required under federal and state laws to register in public databases are managing to slip through the cracks, although perhaps only temporarily, by changing residences and moving to other states. This is creating a major problem for law enforcement agencies tasked with keeping track of these individuals. More than 800,000 people were registered as sex offenders in the U.S. at the end of 2015, according to data collected by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Do Megan’s Law Sex Offender Registration Requirements Work?
Some criminal justice experts believe that sex offender registration requirements might actually increase the likelihood of recidivism because convicted sex offenders will feel compelled to go into hiding, possibly by moving to other states. Maia Christopher, executive director of the Association for Treatment of Sexual Behaviors, said that very little evidence exists to prove a correlation between sex offender registries and lower incidences of re-offense. In fact, noted Maia, requiring a recently released convict to register as a sex offender might actually make it more likely that they end up violating the law in the future.
What Happens to Sex Offenders Who Move to Another State?
When a convicted sex offender attempts to cross state borders, federal law enforcement often gets involved. One person who tried, and failed, to avoid sex offender registration requirements was Richard Joseph, a 43-year-old man released from New York State Prison in 2006 after serving a sentence for a rape conviction. Since Joseph had a sex crime conviction on his record, he was required under state law to register as a sex offender. As a convicted sex offender, Joseph had to report his status to local law enforcement where he lived and submit his personal information for use in a searchable sex offender registry database. He also had to report regularly to NY parole authorities and notify parole supervisors if and when he planned to move.
Joseph ran into legal difficulties when he did not report to his NY parole officer. He committed another violation of the law when he failed to contact New Jersey State Police in advance of his move from New York to Teaneck, NJ. Five weeks after moving to New Jersey, Joseph was arrested and charged with failure to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. The judge in the case was not lenient, sentencing Joseph to an additional 36 months behind bars. The judge was particularly harsh because prosecutors alleged that Joseph had intentionally hidden his sex offender status and moved to New Jersey solely so that he would not have to register as a convicted sex offender.
For more information about the issues facing law enforcement when it comes to dealing with sex offender registration requirements, read the NJ.com article, “How Convicted Sex Offenders Fly under the Radar.”
If you are facing criminal charges for sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, possession of child pornography or any other sex crime in New Jersey, it is crucial that you hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer. The knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC have more than 80 years of combined experience defending clients against sex crime charges in superior courts throughout NJ. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.