NJ: New Jersey Closer To New Megan's Law.
December 19, 2000
The New Jersey legislature is working on a proposed Megan's Law that, if
passed and signed into law, would make sex offender disclosure the
specific obligation of law enforcement agencies -- and not real estate
Debate on the law is especially poignant in New Jersey, where 7-year-old
Megan Kanka was killed by a sex offender living in the neighborhood ---
sparking the national outcry for child protection. Kanga's assailant had twice
before been convicted of sex offenses against children before he moved to
the Kanga's neighborhood. The child's parents and neighbors were outraged
that they had not been informed of his presence.
In mid-December the New Jersey General Assembly passed a bill creating a
sex offender Internet registry. The state Senate, however, has not yet
introduced a similar bill.
The General Assembly's action came after passage of a state constitutional
amendment in November approving the disclosure of the names and
addresses of convicted sex offenders to the general public.
Once the sex offender Web-site is developed and posted on the Internet by
the Attorney General's office, any member of the public will be able to
download the name and location of the sex offender.
NJAR President Timothy J. Richards said the association was continuing to
work with the legislature to make sure home seller rights are protected,
regardless of whatever version of the law is finally passed.
"When this happens, the New Jersey Association wants to ensure that
thousands of New Jerseyans who sell their homes are protected and
understand the law," Richards said.
"Currently, the public disclosure of a sex offender's identity is not permitted,
so it's illegal for home sellers to disclose any Megan's Law information.
Once the list of sex offenders becomes public, however, questions
concerning a seller's responsibilities could arise and create confusion for
both sellers and buyers.
"That is why we support (efforts) to make it absolutely clear that sellers,
lessors, and real estate licensees are not responsible for obtaining registry
information once the sex offender list becomes public on the Internet."
Richards indicated, however, Realtors would alert home buyers to the
whereabouts of the sex offender data.
"We at the New Jersey Association of Realtors are prepared to amend our
contracts of sale and our lease agreements to alert buyers and tenants to
the state's official Internet registry Web site," he said.
Since Megan Kanga's death in 1994, almost every state has adopted some
kind of law requiring disclosure of the presence of sex offenders in
neighborhoods. President Clinton signed a federal law mandating disclosure
Source: Realty Times