Court Decision Invalidates Local Sex Offender Restrictions

STATE – Carteret and Sayreville are among 120 New Jersey municipalities that had ordinances restricting where sex offenders could live struck down last week by a state Supreme Court decision.

The high court ruled 6-0 that municipalities are prohibited from banning sex offenders from living next to places where children gather, such as schools or parks. The case involved laws passed by Cherry Hill and Galloway townships. The Carteret and Sayreville ordinances, adopted in 2005, are similar to those invalidated by the court.

The Supreme Court’s decision affirmed a 2008 decision by the state’s Appellate Division that stressed the need to make policies regarding convicted sex offenders more uniform, precluding the “coexistence of municipal regulation.”

According to the Appellate Court ruling, affirmed by the state Supreme Court last week, municipal ordinances and bans “interfere with and frustrate the purposes of the statewide scheme and conflict with the expressed and implied intent of the Legislature to exclusively regulate this field.”

Megan’s Law requires convicted sex offenders to register with police after their release from prison and to notify authorities if they move. In cases where an offender is deemed most dangerous, the entire community is notified.

State lawmakers may choose to enact additional legislation to restrict where convicted sex offenders may live.

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