What is the Significance of a Megan’s Law Tier Classification for the Purposes of Pretrial Detention?

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

The State is obligated to demonstrate the propriety of defendant’s tier classification by clear and convincing evidence. In re Registrant M.F., 169 N.J. 45, 54 (2001).

For a Megan’s Law Tier analysis, the precise nature of his original offenses would have been considered. Many aspects of his life and character would have been assessed. Another trial judge conducted a hearing on that classification, at which defendant presumably had the right to counsel.

Detention analysis under the Act should afford considerable weight to the tier classification of a defendant who has previously committed a sexual offense subject to Megan’s Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -23, and whose dangerousness and risk of re-offending have been evaluated on a Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (“RRAS”). Such a Megan’s Law tier classification falls within the broad terms of N.J.S.A. 2A:162-20(c)(1). The Megan’s Law tiering is particularly salient where a defendant has been classified in “Tier 3” corresponding to the highest risk of re-offense, and where the pending charges involve new sexual offenses.

Therefore, a court can include a defendant’s Megan’s Law tier classification as a result of a prior incident in its analysis for pretrial detention.

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