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Megan's Law

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What Is Megan's Law?

Megan’s Law is the general name given to a category of state laws that require convicted sex offenders to register with local law enforcement authorities. Since Megan’s Law regulations are not federal, they are not uniform in structure, wording, or application. You must contact local law enforcement or a local attorney to find out the specific regulations that govern your geographical location.

Megan’s Laws require people convicted of specific sex crimes to register as sex offenders with the local law enforcement agency where they live. Prior to release from a jail, prison, mental institution, mental hospital, or release on parole or probation, a sex offender receives notice of the registration requirement. Once they relocate and register that registration is sent to the Department of Justice of their state.

Megan’s laws stipulate that offenders must re-register annually and when they move residences. The states will set more specific regulations. For example, California requires that transient (homeless) offenders register every 30 days, and requires that violent sexual predators must re-register every 90 days.

Methods of access to the information varies by state. California and others have websites where you can search by your zip code, city or other locality. Other states have different websites or access available only by toll phone number or in person at your local law enforcement agency. The federal database is online as well and searches through state websites by first and last name.

Who Is It Called "Megan’s Law"?

Megan was a seven-year-old girl from New Jersey who was raped and murdered by one of the three convicted sex offenders who moved in across the street from her parent's house. Megan's parents were unaware that their neighbors were sex offenders.

Are All Sex offenders Disclosed to the public?

Rules vary by state but some states will exempt certain classes of convicted sex offender from public disclosure. For example, someone peeing in the street could be arrested for committing a lewd act in public, could be classified as a sex offender, but their crime might not seem as harsh as someone who committed rape or molestation. Some states may include all sex offenders as a default and require those who believe they should be exempted, to submit an application to be excluded from public disclosure.

Are There Any Legal Protections for Sex Offenders?

No. Megan’s law allows the general public access to your location but in no way authorizes or condones violence or any other criminal activity against you. If you feel you are being attacked, harassed, or otherwise assaulted please contact the local authorities and speak to a lawyer.

Although you have committed a crime, that does not license your neighbors to commit any crimes against you. Megan’s law is only in place to disseminate information and does not authorize criminal activity.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are a registered sex offender, or if you live in a neighborhood with registered sex offenders, you may need to consult with a criminal defense attorney.

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 01-04-2017 05:39 PM PST

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