While the justice system typically treats juveniles differently than adults, the sex offender registration requirement is a notable exception. In this article, our juvenile defense lawyers will go over who has to register, how the process starts, and how to apply for removal.
NJ Juveniles Adjudicated Delinquent Must Register
Each state has its own set of sex crime laws. Therefore, each state also has its own list of “registerable offenses,” or offenses which require registration as a sex offender. New Jersey’s registration requirements are set forth in N.J.S.A. § 2C:7-2, which defines the following as registerable offenses (some of which are subject to special criteria):
- Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Criminal Restraint
- Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Child Endangerment)
- False Imprisonment
- Luring or Enticing a Child
- Sexual Assault
People who fall into any of the following three categories are required to register for the commission of a registerable offense:
- Adults who were convicted (found guilty).
- Adults who were found not guilty by reason of insanity.
- Juveniles were “adjudicated delinquent.”
Before we move on, let’s clarify the meaning of the term “adjudicated delinquent.”
When a juvenile is charged with committing a crime, he or she is detained by law enforcement. (Unfortunately, juveniles are not eligible for bail in New Jersey.) When the juvenile is released, there are a few paths the case can take. Depending on the nature and severity of the charges, the case can be handled by the Juvenile Conference Committee (JCC), Intake Services Conference (ISC), or a court (which may be formal or informal).
If the juvenile is found guilty of the offense, he or she is “adjudicated delinquent” by the judge, instead of being convicted. (In general, the New Jersey judiciary defines an adjudication as a “determination by a judge that a juvenile has or has not committed the charge(s) listed in the complaint.”) The juvenile will then receive a record, and will be subject to various penalties, such as fines, probation, driver’s license suspension, and community service. Thus, if a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent, it is essentially the juvenile equivalent of being convicted.
Responsibility for informing juveniles of their registration responsibilities falls to the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC). This is provided by N.J.S.A. § 2C:7-3, which states that the JJC, among other organizations, “shall establish procedures for notifying persons under their supervision [juveniles] of the obligation to register.” Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:7-4, the Superintendent of State Police is required to supply the JJC with a form of registration, which includes:
- A signed written statement where the juvenile acknowledges that they were “advised of the duty to register.”
- The date and place of the adjudication(s), including “indictment number, fingerprints, and a brief description of the crime or crimes for which registration is required.”
- “Any other information that the Attorney General deems necessary to assess risk of future commission of a crime.”
Exceptions and Getting Removed from the Registry
With all of this information in mind, there are some exceptions for juveniles who were adjudicated delinquent.
This is established by N.J.S.A. § 2C:7-12, which states that the Legislature – while finding the Registry to serve the public’s best interests – has also found that “in some instances, countervailing interests support a legislative determination to exclude from the Internet registry the… information of certain sex offenders.”
These “certain sex offenders” include, to continue quoting the statute, “juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent for the commission of one sex offense, but who do not present a relatively high risk of re-offense.”
In other words, the court may find that internet registration is inappropriate if the juvenile was (1) found guilty of one offense only, and (2) does not seem likely to re-offend, based on supporting evidence. While each case is unique and must be reviewed individually, this scenario generally “justifies the decision to limit public access to information about such juveniles through the Internet.”
Furthermore, there are also some circumstances under which removal from the registry is possible. A juvenile offender can apply to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry if he or she was 13 years old or younger when adjudicated delinquent, and is now at least 18 years old. However, removal is not possible if the adjudication involved sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, or more than one offense.
If your child, grandchild, brother, or sister has been accused of committing sex crimes in New Jersey, the outcome of the charges could negatively impact the rest of their life, affecting everything from job opportunities to student loans for college. It is absolutely critical that your loved one’s legal rights are being protected by a skilled and experienced sex crimes lawyer.
To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956. Our attorneys have more than 45 years of combined experience, and have achieved favorable outcomes for numerous juvenile clients.