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State v. Hokum Brown
State v. Rodney Brown

The defendants were convicted of sex offenses subjecting them to Megan’s Law registration requirements. At the time of their sentencing, violation of these registration requirements would result in a fourth-degree charge. In 2007, the New Jersey legislature upgraded the punishment for violating these requirements to a third-degree offense. Defendants were subsequently charged with third-degree failure to register.

In April 2020, ACLU-NJ filed an amicus brief on behalf of the two defendants, arguing that to charge them with third-degree failure to register would violate the ex post facto clauses of both the U.S. Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution. In the brief, ACLU-NJ argues that the crime for purposes of ex post facto analysis is the predicate sex offense, which was committed long before the 2007 amendments upgrading the punishment for violation of Megan’s Law registration requirements. To charge the defendants with a third-degree offense – punishable by more than triple the prison length imposed by a fourth-degree offense – would retroactively increase the punishment for the underlying sex offense.

Status

After oral argument on October 14, 2020, the case remains pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court.

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