State v. Brown

In State v. Brown, the New Jersey Supreme Court had to determine whether it is an ex post facto violation to subject a Megan’s Law registrant to a third-degree charge for failing to register when the offense was merely a fourth-degree crime when the registrant was initially required to register. The Court held that Megan’s Law is a civil consequence of a criminal conviction. And by increasing the penalty for failing to register, the Legislature in 2007 “simply [made] a prospective enhancement of an offense for which defendants had fair notice.” As such, the defendants had adequate notice of the enhanced penalty before they failed to register, and there was no ex post facto violation. The Court distinguished a related alteration of community supervision for life to parole supervision for life that was addressed in State v. Hester, 233 N.J. 381, 398 (2018). The CSL-to-PSL change did invoke ex-post factor protections because PSL “is a punitive consequence of that underlying offense.” Justice Albin dissented.

Hakum-Brown