Megan’s Law refers to a state registry requirement for sex offenders. The law was enacted in New Jersey following the death of Megan Kanka in 1994 at the hands of a known sex offender. Megan was from Hamilton, New Jersey.
New Jersey’s Megan’s Law went into effect on October 31, 1994.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed H.R. 2137, which mandated that the public is entitled to information about sexually violent criminals who reside in the jurisdiction where they reside. After this, any convicted sex offender was required to register with local authorities and in some circumstances, their information may be made available to the public.
New Jersey law obligates sex offenders to register with local authorities. Public notices of the offenders’ identities and addresses are posted in public places may be posted on the internet. If the offender is considered a high risk to re-offend, People who live within up to a mile of the offender may be notified of the offender’s address.
New Jersey offers a system of categorizing the risk of each offender into three levels or tiers:
This is the minimal tier in which no public notification is required. Law enforcement where the offender resides, works, goes to school or frequents must be notified of the offender’s presence.
This level requires notification to law enforcement where the offender resides, works, goes to school or frequents must be notified of the offender’s presence. In addition, this level of notification requires notification to all schools, parks, youth organizations such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls Clubs, places of worship and any other areas where children gather and may encounter the offender. In some circumstances, the offender’s information may be posted on the internet.
This is the highest risk level and requires notification to law enforcement and to public, up to a mile radius, where the offender resides, works, goes to school or frequents. The offender's identifying information on the internet.
Who is Required to Register
Any sex offender convicted since October 31, 1994, is required to register with the police. Any sex offender who was incarcerated, on parole or probation as of this date must also register. Regardless of the date of conviction, anyone who was found at the time of sentencing to be a compulsive and repetitive sex offender must register.
The offenses for which Megan’s Law was intended to include are the following:
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact
- Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the child
- Luring or enticing a child
- Criminal restraint and false imprisonment of a child
- Kidnapping of a child by a person who is not the child’s parent
Information Required for Registry
Offenders who are required to register with law enforcement must supply the following information:
- Name, social security number, age, race, date of birth, height and weight, hair and eye color.
- Legal address and any temporary address.
- Date and place of employment.
- Date and place of each conviction, adjudication or acquittal by reason of insanity, and indictment numbers.
- Fingerprints, photographs and a brief description of the crime or crimes that are the subject of the offenses requiring registration.
- Prior to his or her release from a correctional facility and within 48 hours after release
- When being placed on probation or parole supervision
- Within 10 days of entering the state
- 10 days prior to changing an address
Further, if you are considered a repetitive or compulsive offender, your address must be verified every 90 days. For all other offenders, verification is required on an annual basis.
Duration of Obligations
An offender is subject to Megan’s Law for life. Some offenders may petition the State Superior Court to terminate their obligations if they have not committed any offenses within 15 years of their release or conviction; whichever is longer. The court must find that the person is not likely to pose a threat to the safety of the community.
If you think you may qualify for termination of your obligations under Megan’s Law, contact a criminal defense attorney to most effectively and convincingly present your case.
Penalties for Violation of Megan’s Law
An offender who violates Megan’s Law has committed a crime of either a third degree or a fourth degree. A third degree crime carries a sentence up to 5 years in prison. A fourth degree crimes carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.
Anyone who is arrested and charged with violating Megan's Law faces very serious charges that can result in a long prison sentence.
Do not, under any circumstances, give a statement to law enforcement or anyone from child protective services or any other governmental agency.
If you are incarcerated while awaiting a court appearance, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. Do not discuss your case with any inmate, guard or on the phone.
There are defenses to any crime and a qualified criminal defense attorney can protect your rights and ensure a fair trial and present your side of the case effectively. Your communications should only be with your criminal defense attorney who can explore and investigate the facts of your case and offer the best suggestions on how to defend you.
If you have been accused of violating Megan's Law, we want to hear your story.