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NJ Supreme Court Ruling Limits GPS Monitoring Of Sex Offenders

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

Posted: September 24, 2014

Decision Rendered In Riley v. New Jersey State Parole Board

On September 22, 2014, in a 4-3 decision,  the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of the appellant, George Riley, a convicted sex offender, who had been required to wear a GPS tracking monitoring device under the Sex Offender Monitoring Act.

In 2009, Riley was released after serving 23 years in prison.  Although Riley was sentenced at a time when lifetime parole was not mandatory for sex offenders, the parole board placed him under parole supervision as a Tier III sex offender.

Riley was required to register as an offender under Megan’s Law, which was also enacted after his conviction, and was required to wear a monitoring device at all times for the remainder of his lifetime.  Additionally, his parole officer would have access to his home.

“When Riley was released two years later, court papers say, he was not subject to any parole supervision. But he was designated a Tier III offender under Megan’s Law — which applies to those who are considered high risk for committing another offense. Under that tier, Riley was subject to “Internet registration and the most comprehensive degree of community notification,” court papers say.”(1)

According to a syllabus published by the Clerk of Court, “Riley filed an appeal with the Parole Board, challenging the imposition of the SOMA requirements.  He characterized the GPS monitoring program as nothing less than parole supervision for life and claimed that this arbitrarily extended sentence violated the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution. The Chairman of the Parole Board wrote to Riley that as a result of his Tier 3 designation, his “placement [in] the Sex Offender G.P.S. Monitoring Program is mandated by statute” and that his failure to comply with the program’s rules and regulations would constitute a third-degree crime. Riley appealed.”

The Court held, that, “The retroactive application of the 2007 Sex Offender Monitoring Act to George Riley twenty-three years after he committed the sexual offense at issue and after he fully completed his criminal sentence violates the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States and New Jersey Constitutions”(2)

There are currently 380 sex offenders deemed “dangerous sex offenders” who are wearing GPS monitoring devices in New Jersey, of which 125 are offenders who were convicted prior to the enactment of the Sex Offender Monitoring act in 2007.

(1) Brent Johnson, “Some sex offenders can’t be forced to wear GPS monitors, N.J. Supreme Court rules”. www.nj.com, September 23, 2014.

(2) Syllabus Prepared By The Office Of The Clerk

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Resources: New Jersey Courts Website

Categories: Sex Crimes Defense

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