Appeal Of Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (“RRAS”), Megan’s Law Tier Classification
Docket No. A-2243-21
Decided March 10, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey Sex Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal of his Megan’s Law Tier classification.
Defendant pled guilty in 2019 to 2nd degree luring or enticing a child and was sentenced to a three year prison term. The Judgment of Conviction also subjected defendant to Megan’s Law registration and imposed a special sentence of parole supervision for life, under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4. Once paroled, the State served defendant with a proposed Tier Two, Moderate Risk Classification, based on a score of forty-four points on the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (“RRAS”). Defendant was assigned Tier One, Low Risk Classification after a classification hearing. After a second hearing, the trial judge assigned B.D. a score of thirty-six (36), indicating a Tier One classification with Tier Two notification and internet registration. The final order was stayed pending appeal.
The RRAS identifies thirteen factors relevant to determining a person’s risk of recidivism: The factors include: Degree of Force; Degree of Contact; Age of Victim; Victim Selection; Number of Offenses/Victims; Duration of Offensive Behavior; Length of Time Since Last Offense; History of Antisocial Acts; Response to Treatment; Substance Abuse; Therapeutic Support; Residential Support; and Employment/Education Stability. For each of these thirteen factors, the individual is assigned a score between zero and three; zero expresses a low risk and three expresses a high risk of recidivism. The scores for each factor are then adjusted and tallied to give the individual a final score placing him into one of three Tiers. An individual with a score of less than thirty-seven is placed into Tier One, and typically, only local police are notified of the presence of Tier One offenders. N.J.S.A. 2C:7-8(c)(1). An individual scoring between thirty-seven and seventy-four is placed into Tier Two and considered to be at moderate risk of recidivism, typically mandating notification of local law enforcement as well as certain community organizations, such as schools and religious institutions. N.J.S.A. 2C:7-8(c)(2). Finally, individuals scoring seventy-four or higher are deemed to be at high risk of recidivism and placed into Tier Three, typically mandating notification of the public at large. N.J.S.A. 2C:7-8(c)(3).
B.D. argued on appeal that because he scored a 36 on the RRAS, which is in the Tier One range, the trial court erred by ordering that he be subject to Tier Two Internet Notification without expert testimony supporting the departure from the RRAS score and because facts already considered in the RRAS score were double counted as justification for the departure. The Appellate Court ultimately disagreed with defendant’s contentions and determined that his arguments lacked merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. However, the court did articulate why it found no merit in B.D.’s arguments. The court explained that the holding in In re Registrant G.B., 147 N.J. 62, 75 (1996), recognized “variable factors should contribute, perhaps through expert testimony, to narrow tailoring of community notification to each registrant’s individualized situation.” Thus, G.B. stands for the proposition that, while expert testimony may be helpful in some cases, it is not required, and in many cases unnecessary. Defendant’s classification was therefore affirmed.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to appealing a Megan’s Law Tier Classification. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.
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