Buting ,Williams & Stilling ,S.C. | A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Call Today for a FREE Consultation


In New Jersey, sex offenders fight for chance to get off registry

by | Nov 29, 2019 | Sex Crimes

In New Jersey as in most states, there is a sex offender registry that was created by a “Megan’s Law.” These laws were enacted after a 7-year-old girl, Megan Kanka, was raped and murdered by a man who had been convicted twice of sexual assault. The law requires all those convicted of qualifying sex crimes to register their whereabouts with the state and allows public disclosure of that information.

Sex offender registries may seem reasonable, but they suffer from a number of problems. For one, there is actually little evidence that being placed on a sex offender registry reduces a person’s chances of reoffending. In fact, it might make reoffending more likely because it makes it harder for people to reintegrate into society. It also promotes vigilantism and collateral damage to the offender’s family. 

Moreover, there is no evidence that most of the people chosen for the sex offender registry are actually more dangerous than others. This is partially because people can be placed on the registry for offenses like public urination or teenage sexting, or even consensual underage sex between teenagers, which don’t necessarily predict future offenses.

The registries have also been criticized for giving the public a false sense of security, since more than 90% of offenders are not strangers (for whom the registries were originally created), but relatives or people closely involved in the victim’s life.

It’s also because people are kept on the registry even after they have gone long periods of time without reoffending. It can be virtually impossible to get removed from a sex offender registry even when the person is truly rehabilitated.

That’s one reason why New Jersey changed the law in 2002 to allow people to be removed from the sex offender registry if they haven’t committed any additional offense within 15 years of conviction.

15 years from the original offense or 15 years from the latest conviction?

Two men in New Jersey are petitioning to have their names taken off the sex offender registry after 15 years of clean records. The problem? Both committed crimes within 15 years of their sex crime conviction. But it has now been 15 years since their second offenses.

The men were convicted of sexual assault in separate cases in 1994 and 1998. In 2001, each man was convicted separately of a new, non-sex-related offense. They admit this precludes their being removed from the sex offender registry.

But now it has been more than 15 years since 2001. Are they not then 15 years from conviction? Or do they only get one chance to be removed from the registry — 15 years from their sex offenses?

An appellate court will decide. A major question is, are these the kind of people who are so dangerous they must be registered? Or would the registry and the community be better served by excluding people who have gone long terms without committing another crime?

Practice Areas

“I just want to say thank you for the outstanding work you have done for him and let you know how much we appreciate the time and attention you gave to his case. We are obviously overjoyed by today’s dismissal!” (Child pornography case dismissed after motion to suppress was granted)”

“After having had time to exhale, we thank each one of you and all the others who contributed to the exemplary Supreme Court presentation. We are proud of your efforts on our behalf and, equally important, on behalf of the many present and future defendants statewide.” (Client’s comment after Supreme Court oral argument)

“Thank you. Thank you. I am so pleased to hear that we won. It doesn’t seem that it was even a close call. I appreciate your efforts.” (Oconto County defendant after Buting, Williams & Stilling got his prison sentence overturned in the court of appeals) ”

“Your time and advice was appreciated more than words can express at a time when we really needed someone to guide us.” (Client)

“The outcome was amazing, one unavailable even under identical circumstances in probably 98 percent of federal courtrooms around the country. Separate and apart from the outcome, though, I am supremely impressed by your efforts on your client’s behalf. Your comments in support of the requested sentence were perfect in tone and, having now reviewed the extensive sentencing memorandum you filed, your work in that regard was exemplary as well. Your client was certainly fortunate to have you as his attorney.” (Local federal court attorney present at a sentencing)

“I can’t thank you enough, not only for all of the tireless work that you and your staff put into my case, but for telling me what I needed to hear, at a time when I absolutely had to hear it. I consider myself blessed for everything turning out the way it did, especially since I blindly picked you out of a phone book! You helped me, my family and friends in many more ways than the money ever could.” (Child pornography client)

“I think you will find that in any circles where Kathy’s name is raised, people will always respond positively and identify her as an extremely hardworking, knowledgeable and ethical lawyer who is timely and effective with any endeavor she takes on. These circles would include colleagues, friends, prosecutors, judges, professors and others who have crossed paths with Kathy. They would also include the many lawyers like me who have referred numerous cases to Kathy, invariably with positive feedback from the clients regarding her knowledge of their case, empathy, professionalism and fair-mindedness in addressing their concerns.” (Fellow attorney)

“Thank you for giving [our son] back to us. Wonderful work!” (Family of client accused of armed robbery after charges were dismissed)

“Yes, His perfect time and perfect place, you were a part of this plan. I almost didn’t hire you, but I took a step of faith trusting Him and look what happened? Praise God. Our Lord put you in your vocation for a reason, continue to help those He brings your way. May He bless you in ALL you do!” (Client who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in a northwestern Wisconsin county. He was released from prison after attorneys got his conviction reversed.)

“I really cannot thank you enough for your past help. You really know your stuff. It is actually funny when I think about my other past attorney’s knowledge and then when I talk with you. It’s like night and day. You’re like a walking book of knowledge with a purpose-driven life. Thanks.” (Brown County client of attorney Buting)

“A year later and I still believe your defense is the single best example of lawyering I have ever seen.” (Television reporter commenting on attorney Buting’s defense of Steven Avery)

“You have a certain brilliance that makes me sure that when you talk, it is good information and I am in good hands. You tell it to me like it is even when the things you say are not always the things that I would like to hear. You keep it REAL!!!” (Brown County client)

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like this was one of the biggest blessings that happened in my life. I put this along with my children being born healthy and when I survived that horrific shooting. I appreciate everything you have done for me. I couldn’t ask for better lawyers. I want to say thank you to everybody at your firm. I owe you more than the fee you so rightfully deserve. … You gave me back hope. Thank you, man! Out of my 36 years … I have never seen such kindness before. I don’t know what I did to deserve this; I’m very thankful nonetheless. Thank you for giving me hope again. Thank you for your generosity. There are still some really good people around.” (Federal criminal appeal client)

“There is no other attorney I’ve ever even heard of I’d rather have as chief counsel and leader of my defense/appeals than Jerome Buting. You’re the best. Period.” (Dane County client)

“Your advice and counsel were greatly appreciated. We appreciate you taking the time on your Sunday and evenings to help us. We are SO happy about the results! Thanks again.” (Waukesha County client)

“Thank you again … for everything. Five and one-half years of commitment, so many ups and downs and an outcome like that. You did a GREAT job.” (Waukesha County felony drug offense client)