New Jersey Appellate Division affirms rapist’s continued civil commitment on appeal from Essex County court order

In Matter of the Civil Commitment of N.U.M., a case on appeal from an Essex County court, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently upheld the continued civil commitment of a sex offender who was initially sentenced to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center after pleading guilty to crimes associated with the rapes of two 14 year old girls in 1983.


In order to be civilly committed to a sex offender treatment program or have such a sentence continued, the state has to prove that the sex offender suffers from “a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for control, care and treatment.” Once an offender is sentenced to civil commitment, hearings are held annually to review whether he should remain committed. In order to merit continuation of the sentence, the state must prove by clear and convincing evidence that “the individual has serious difficulty in controlling sexually harmful behavior such that it is highly likely that he… will not control his… sexually violent behavior and will reoffend.”


The state’s experts testified in this case that the sex offender “suffers from a mental abnormality and personality disorder… that predispose him to engage in acts of sexual violence.” The sex offender also testified on his own behalf, but the trial judge didn’t believe his assertions that he had made up his past history of sexual assaults. The Appellate Division found these conclusions to be supported by the record and, overall, agreed that the sex offender had not sufficiently mitigated his risk of recidivism to warrant release from civil commitment.


As this case demonstrates, the consequences of being convicted for a sex crime can be severe and long lasting. In addition to civil commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act, sex offenders are often sentenced to prison time and fines, as well as the registration requirements of New Jersey’s Megan’s Law.


Having an attorney by your side

If you’ve been charged with a sex crime in Essex County or need assistance fighting a sexually-related civil commitment order, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, through the email form on my website or call me at 1-866-664-8118 for a free and confidential consultation. As a former prosecutor and current defense lawyer with more than 35 years of experience, I know the best strategies for protecting your rights and I will help to guide you through this difficult process.