IN THE MATTER OF REGISTRANT A.D. IN THE MATTER OF REGISTRANT J.B. IN THE MATTER OF REGISTRANT C.M.
January 18, 2017
certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division,
whose opinion is reported at 441 N.J.Super. 403 (App. Div.
Fletcher C. Duddy Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause
for appellants A.D., J.B., and CM. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public
Defender, attorney; Mr. Duddy and Jesse M. DeBrosse,
Assistant Deputy Public Defender, on the briefs).
L. Bradshaw, Assistant Prosecutor argued the cause for
respondent State of New Jersey, In the matter of Registrant
A.D. (Robert D. Bernardi, Burlington County Prosecutor,
William W. Scharfenberg, Senior Assistant Prosecutor, argued
the cause for respondent State of New Jersey, In the matter
of Registrants J.B. and CM. (Joseph D. Coronato, Ocean County
Prosecutor, attorney) .
T. Lester, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for
amicus curiae Attorney General of New Jersey (Christopher S.
Porrino, Attorney General, attorney).
Megan's Law's registration requirements, N.J.S.A.
2C:7-1 to -5 (Registration Law), a court may terminate a
registrant's obligations if, among other requirements,
the registrant "has not committed an offense within 15
years following conviction or release . . . whichever is
later, and is not likely to pose a threat to the safety of
others." N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f). In this appeal concerning
applications to terminate these sex offenders'
Registration Law obligations, the Court determines whether
the term "offense, " as used in N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f),
means "a crime, a disorderly persons offense or a petty
disorderly persons offense unless a particular subsection in
the code is intended to apply to less than all
three"-the definition given in the general definitional
subsection of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (the
Code), N.J.S.A. 2C: l-14(k)-or a "sex offense" as
defined in the Registration Law.
was convicted of third-degree endangering the welfare of a
child, which triggered the requirements of the Registration
Law. In 2015, more than fifteen years after his conviction,
A.D. filed an unopposed application to be relieved of the
Registration Law's obligations. At the time, neither the
court nor counsel were aware that in 2005 A.D. had been
convicted of violating a condition of his sentence by failing
to notify his parole officer of his change of address. Three
months after the court granted A.D. 's application, the
State became aware of his 2005 conviction and moved for
reconsideration. The court vacated its previous order,
rejecting A.D. 's argument that his application should be
granted because he had not committed a sex offense within
fifteen years. A.D. appealed.
pled guilty to second-degree sexual assault and was sentenced
in March 1995. Following his release from custody, J.B.
initially complied with the Registration Law. In 2006,
however, J.B. failed to register and moved from his current
address without notifying authorities. In August 2007, J.B.
pled guilty to fourth-degree failure to notify law
enforcement agencies of a change of address. In 2014, J.B.
applied to terminate his obligation under the Registration
Law. The court denied his application, concluding that the
intervening conviction, though not for a sex offense, was a
bar under N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f) to termination of his
Registration Law obligations. J.B. appealed.
pled guilty to third-degree aggravated criminal sexual
contact and was sentenced in May 1999. His judgment of
conviction was amended in April 2002 to subject him to the
requirements of Megan's Law. Fifteen years after
C.M.'s sex offense conviction, he applied to terminate
his Registration Law obligations. The court denied the
application due to an intervening conviction for violating a
final restraining order under the Prevention of Domestic
Violence Act. The court rejected C.M.'s argument that he
was entitled to have his registration obligations terminated
because he had not committed a sex offense within fifteen
years. CM. appealed.
published opinion, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial
courts' orders. 441 N.J.Super. 403 (App. Div. 2015). The
panel concluded that the Code explicitly defines the term
"offense" in N.J.S.A. 2C: l-14(k). Having found no
ambiguity in the statutory language, the panel concluded that
"the term 'offense' in N.J.S.A. 2C7-2(f) means
precisely what it is defined to mean-a crime, disorderly
persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense-and not
the unstated limited meaning, 'sex offense.'"
441 N.J. Super, at 413. The panel noted that interpreting the
term "offense" in N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(f) as the Code
defines it in N.J.S.A. 2C: l-14(k) is consistent with the
Supreme Court's interpretation of the statute in Doe
v. Poritz, 142 N.J. 1 (1995).
Court granted A.D., J.B., and C.M.'s petition for
certification. 216 KI 5 (2013).
The judgment of the Appellate Division is AFFIRMED
substantially for the reasons expressed in Judge Nugent's
JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, PATTERSON,
FERNANDEZVINA, and TIMPONE join in this opinion. ...