Under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4, parole supervision for life (PSL) is mandatory for individuals convicted of certain sex-related offenses. It essentially means the person will be held to restrictions of parole for the foreseeable future.
Community supervision for life (CSL) is an earlier version of PSL. They are largely identical but CSL only applies to those who were convicted and sentenced before 2004. All lifetime supervision sentences since then are PSL.
What are CSL and PSL Violations?
When a person is sentenced to supervision for life, there are rules he/she is expected to follow. Those will be laid out by the judge and/or parole officer. For the most part, a person under supervision cannot leave the state without permission. Other NJ parole rules will depend on the crime(s) in question, and could include:
- Possession of an internet-enabled device
- Use of social media
- Alcohol consumption
- Missing scheduled counseling sessions
- Missing scheduled drug testing
- Testing positive for drugs
- Contact with minors
- Living in proximity to a school or park
- Violating curfew
- Contacting the victim
Penalties and Fines
A violation of community supervision for life is a fourth-degree crime. If convicted, a person can be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and fined up to $10,000. In addition, being convicted of a CSL violation can result in having CSL upgraded to PSL.
In contrast, violations of parole for life are considered third-degree crimes and can result in 3 to 5 years in prison plus a fine of up to $15,000. A person can also have his/her parole revoked entirely.
Difference Between CSL Statute and PSL Statute
CSL applies to those convicted of certain sex crimes before January 14, 2004. The person must adhere to more than 20 conditions of community supervision set forth in N.J.A.C. 10A:71–6.11(b). This can include limited or no access to the internet and social media, complying with local laws and ordinances (including traffic laws), refraining from taking drugs, and not carrying or purchasing weapons.
When an offender is charged with a CSL violation, the case is taken to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor then decides whether to present the case to the grand jury, which will then decide whether or not to indict the parolee.
A person on CSL is entitled to have a trial by jury to determine if he/she is guilty of violating the terms of release. If convicted, he/she can be sent back to prison.
PSL applies to those convicted of certain sex offenses on or after January 14, 2004. The same possible limits imposed for CSL apply in PSL cases. If someone is charged with a lifetime parole violation, the NJ Parole Board may revoke parole and send him/her immediately to prison.
One of the biggest differences is that those on parole for life do not have the right to a trial by jury for parole violations! Instead, the case will be heard by the NJ Parole Board, which will decide whether or not the defendant is guilty of violating the rules of parole. If convicted, he/she will be sent back to prison.
How To Beat a CSL/PSL Violation
While only CSL violations are entitled to a trial by jury, any charge of violating lifetime supervision rules must be proven in an evidenced-based case. That means a person can (and should) hire an attorney to argue on his/her behalf.
Beating a charge of violating lifetime supervision rules is difficult, and the exact defense will depend on the case. For example, if the person is charged with owning a firearm or carrying drugs, the attorney could disprove possession.
An attorney could also evaluate to ensure that any evidence of the violation was not obtained illegally—in other words, the parolee has rights and if the police violate those rights, then any evidence gathered in that way cannot be used against the parolee.
The exact defense will ultimately depend on the violation in question. Before making any decisions, a person should contact a private criminal defense attorney right away.
Offenses That Can Result in Lifetime Supervision in NJ
The following crimes can result in a sentence that involves parole supervision for life:
- Aggravated sexual assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a));
- Sexual assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b) or (c));
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(a));
- Kidnapping (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(c)(2));
- Endangering the welfare of a child (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a), N.J.S.A. 2C:24-
- 4(b)(3) and N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(b)(5)(b)(i) or (ii)) (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(b)(4),
- N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(b)(5)(a) and N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(b)(5)(b)(iii) on motion by the State);
- Leader of a child pornography network (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4.1 on motion by the States);
- Luring (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-6);
Consequences for Juveniles
Under Megan’s Law, New Jersey sentencing guidelines allow juveniles (those under 18 years of age) to be ordered to serve lifetime supervision. Thankfully, for juveniles, parole for life is not always truly for life.
If the youth was under 14 when the crime was committed, then he/she can apply to be removed from the sex offender list and lifetime parole when he/she turns 18. Those 14 or older at the time of the offense can petition 15 years after the last conviction or release from prison. During that time, the youth must not be convicted of any other offenses, including parole violations.
However, a parole violation can make it harder to get off parole for life. Any parent whose child is under supervision and is charged with violating supervision must contact an attorney to help avoid a conviction.
Can You Ever Get Off Parole Supervision for Life?
It is possible to be released from parole supervision for life. A person who has gone 15 years without being convicted of any other offenses can file a petition with the court where he/she was sentenced.
Getting off parole for life requires presenting “clear and convincing” evidence that the petitioner is not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others. This evidence may include expert testimony from a psychological counselor that one has been rehabilitated. Proof of efforts to maintain employment or obtain a degree is also helpful.
Expunge CSL/PSL Convictions
A person who has been convicted of any sex-related crime that results in a sentence of supervision for life will no longer be eligible to expunge his/her criminal record. A person who wishes to clear his/her criminal record must instead attempt to overturn the underlying conviction.
A person should consult with an attorney to determine if this is possible given the circumstances of the case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Should I Contact?
A person on parole for life has limited freedom as it is. If you or someone you love has been charged with violating CSL or PSL, contact an attorney right away. The attorneys at Rosenblum Law have helped many individuals hold on to their freedom and avoid further consequences. Email Rosenblum Law or call 888-815-3694 today for a free consultation about your case.