Q&A: Sex Offender in the Building

Q. “I was recently made aware that a sex offender moved into my building.  He moved into his girlfriend’s apartment. I made the board aware of this and even gave them a printout from criminal justice. We have a lot of children living in our community.  Does the board have a legal obligation to advise the shareholders that a sex offender lives in our building?”

             —Fearful Tenant

A. “Although all sex offenders are required to register with the State’s registry of sex offender,” says attorney Bruce Ackerman of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C., which has offices in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, “the level of notice, especially notice to the community or to each household, depends on the sex offender’s level of risk of re-offense.  Notice is governed by the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines for Law Enforcement for the Implementation of Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Laws.  There is no case found establishing an obligation on a board to notify all residents, and privacy rights may also cut against providing such notice.  The answer might be different if the board received a notice as described below.  The State Guideline provides the particular rules and regulations governing the notice requirements. The following is a summary:

““Upon receipt of a completed sex offender registration form, it shall be the responsibility of the County Prosecutor to render a determination as to the level of risk of re-offense and the scope of community notification for each offender. Depending on the level of risk, Notice will be provided to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and, in certain circumstances, the community likely to encounter the offender. The Prosecutor, in coordination with local law enforcement will determine the appropriate scope of community notice. Subject to judicial review, community notification shall then be effectuated by local law enforcement, State Police, county investigators or any other duly authorized employee of a law enforcement agency, with the oversight of the Prosecutor’s Office. Such Tier Two and Tier Three community notifications shall be conducted through the means set forth in the Guidelines.””

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