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Understanding the consequences of a sex crime conviction

When a person learns they are being investigated by law enforcement officials in connection with a possible sex crime or are actually placed under arrest, it's understandable how they might feel a sense of sheer panic.

That's because in addition to the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence, they face a host of collateral consequences, some of which they will be forced to endure regardless of whether they are ultimately acquitted or even whether they've paid their debt to society in full.

Indeed, this enduring punishment is perhaps best personified by New Jersey's Sex Offender Registry. Specifically, those convicted of certain enumerated sex crimes -- from sexual assault to aggravated criminal sexual contact -- since the landmark legislation known as Megan's Law took effect on October 31, 1994 are required to register with their local police department.

Furthermore, those individuals whom both the courts and various experts have deemed both compulsive and repetitive are also required to register under the law regardless of the date on which they were convicted.

As to the actual registration, individuals will need to fill out a registration form outlining a considerable amount of personal information, including their place of employment and their home address.

Regarding home addresses, individuals subject to registration requirements will also need to report any planned moves inside the state to the local police at least 10 days prior to undertaking the relocation. Furthermore, the law dictates that certain classes of offenders will need to verify their home address once per year, while others will have to verify their home addresses as often as every 90 days.

For their part, law enforcement officials will assiduously monitor whether individuals within their jurisdiction are meeting these registration requirements.

We'll continue this discussion in future posts, examining the potential punishment facing those who fail to register and the length of time for which most individuals must register.

Please understand that our purpose in sharing the foregoing information was not to cause unnecessary alarm, but rather to impress upon people just how serious sex crime charges are and why it's so important to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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