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State v. Leahy

October 28, 2005

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES A. LEAHY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, 03-02-0103-I.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Collester, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Submitted September 13, 2005

Before Judges Coburn, Collester and Lisa.

Tried to a jury, defendant was convicted of the fourth-degree offense of failure to notify law enforcement of a change of address as required by Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2d. He was sentenced to a term of 364 days in the Somerset County Jail in addition to mandatory fines and assessments. He appeals his conviction.

The facts are essentially undisputed. On March 9, 2001, defendant, then age thirty, was convicted of second-degree sexual assault by penetration of a fifteen year old female in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(4). He was sentenced on March 9, 2001, to a probationary term of five years after receiving credit for 407 days in custody with the specific condition that he register with the law enforcement agency where he lived as mandated by Megan's Law. N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2a(2), (b)(2). Four days after sentencing defendant appeared at the North Plainfield Police Department where he was fingerprinted and photographed. At that time he provided a temporary address in North Plainfield.

During the registration process, Lieutenant Gerald Clyne read to defendant that part of the registration form advising of the following duties and obligations under Megan's Law, which stated:

In accordance with the provisions of New Jersey statute 2C:7-1, you understand that upon a change of address, you must notify the law enforcement agency with which you are registered and must re-register with the law enforcement agency where you will reside no less than ten days before you first intend to reside at your new address.

A similar statement was on the fingerprint card signed by defendant.

In accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2, I acknowledge that I have been advised of my duty to register and reregister as a sex offender. I know that I must advise the local/state police whenever I change my registration address. I am aware that failure to register or reregister is a crime pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2a.

On March 14, 2001, Lieutenant Clyne paid defendant an unannounced visit to verify his address. He reminded defendant of his obligation to register any move to a new location no less than ten days prior to moving. Shortly over a month later, on April 23, 2001, defendant met with Clyne to tell him he was moving to an address in Plainfield. Clyne gave him the name of Plainfield's Megan's Law contact officer and later wrote the officer to advise him of defendant's new address.

Over a year later on July 3, 2002, defendant again contacted Lieutenant Clyne, this time to tell him he was moving back to North Plainfield. He gave as his address a residence where he was renting a room. He filled out a new registration form, which read:

I must notify the law enforcement agency with which I am registered and I must reregister with the law enforcement agency where I will reside no less than ten days before I intend to first reside at my new address. Defendant was evicted on November 15, 2002, for failure to pay rent. He did not notify the North Plainfield Police Department. When Lieutenant Clyne went to the North Plainfield address in January 2003, he discovered that defendant no longer lived there. He tried to find defendant by checking the prior residences in North Plainfield and Plainfield, calling the Somerset, Hunterdon and Union County ...


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