In re H.D., 082254 (N.J. 2020)
Nature of Case: H.D. and J.M., two individuals convicted of sex offenses in the mid-90’s were required to register and sentenced to Community Supervision for Life as required by New Jersey statute. Statute provided for termination of CSL and registration after fifteen years since last conviction or release from incarceration. Both individuals had been convicted of minor, non-sexual offenses subsequent to their index sexual offenses. Both individuals were then crime free and petitioned for relief. Parties cross-appealed from mixed results at the trial court. At issue was interpretation of New Jersey law, and whether any subsequent offense forever barred relief.
New Jersey Superior Court held that, while the statute was ambiguous, to hold that the legislature intended to forever bar relief to someone who committed a minor, non-sexual offense would reach an absurd result. State authorities sought review from the state Supreme Court, which was granted.
Holding: New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, holding that the plain language of the New Jersey statute made clear that persons who were convicted of non-sexual offenses within fifteen years of conviction or release from incarceration on a sex offense were not eligible to petition for removal from the sex offense registry.
The Court’s opinion also mentioned the potential Due Process issue that would arise in the context of a hypothetical individual required to register who had been at liberty for 15 years and posed no risk of re-offense, but did not address it.
- New Jersey Supreme Court Opinion (2020) | view via Google Scholar
- New Jersey Superior Court Opinion (2018) | view via Google Scholar