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Megan's Law

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Across the street from where 7 year old Megan Kanka lived, now stands a memorial: A small angel surrounded by pink flowers. This children's park named after the little girl, was the lot where Jesse Timmendequas the rapist and murderer who took away the little girl's life lived. This happened in July 1994 in the Hamilton township of New Jersey.

The parent's of the little girl did not know that the man who moved to the house across the street from their family was a known child molester with two previous convictions for sexual offences. Had they known this they would have been able to protect their daughter from such an untimely death.

As a result of Megan's death, the longstanding legal requirement prohibiting law enforcement from advising the public of serious and high-risk sex offenders living in a community was brought to national attention. On May 17, 1996, President Clinton signed the Federal "Megan's Law" (H.R. 2137) which "required the release of relevant information to protect the public from sexually violent offenders."

Versions of "Megan's Law" were passed in New Jersey and other states. In all 50 states, a paroled sex offender must register his residency with local authorities, and all but five states require some form of notification when a convicted sex offender moves into a neighborhood.




The law takes different forms in different states.

  • In Louisiana, the public has complete access to information on offenders and their movements. One company offers email alerts to families warning of sex offenders moving to homes near them.
  • In Washington, law enforcement officers can call at every house in the neighborhood to warn people about an offender moving in.
  • Sex offenders in Oregon can be forced to display a sign in their windows.

    Under Megan's Law, convicted sex offenders in New Jersey are required to register with their local police department. Prosecutors review the original offense, prison record, and determine whether the offender has a job or other community ties to evaluate potential risk.

    The requirement of community notification and its scope hinge upon the risk of re-offense which, in turn, defines the "tier" or category in which the offender is placed.
    The three risk categories are:

    Equipped with the descriptions and whereabouts of high risk sex-offenders, communities are better able to protect their children.

    Links to more information

    Parents for Megan Law
    Megan's Law
    Klaas Kids Foundation

     

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is Megan's Law?
    This law provides for the creation and maintenance of a state registry of sex offenders and a community notification procedure, which mandates county prosecutors to place offenders into one of three risk categories. For a full text of Megan's Law please visit 'Attorney General Guidelines for law enforcement for the implementation of sex offender registration and community notification laws'at the department of Law & Public Safety.

    2. To whom does this statute apply?
    Individuals who have been convicted, adjudicated delinquent or found not guilty by reason of insanity for a sex offense must register under New Jersey's Megan's Law. The specific offenses for which registration is required can be found in New Jersey Code at 2C:7-2.
    Offenders who have been found compulsive and repetitive must verify their addresses every 90 days while all others must verify their addresses annually.

    3.How is this information gathered?
    Under Megan's Law, convicted sex offenders in New Jersey are required to register with their local police department. The county prosecutor, in which the person resides, will receive the completed registration form and it is the responsibility of the county prosecutor to determine the level of risk of re-offence and the scope of notification for each offender. Where necessary the county prosecutor should coordinate with the country prosecutor where the conviction was obtained.
    The prosecutor of the county would provide the registration card to the Division of State Police.

    4. Who is responsible for maintaining the Sex Offender's Registry?
    The division of state police is responsible for maintain the registry of sex offenders and provision of that information to the National Sex Offender Registry.

    5. What happens when a sex offender relocates?
    The Division of state Police informs the registering agencies of other states about the relocation of sex offenders in and out of those states.

    6. Is the public notified of such offenders?
    Where a registrant's risk of re-offence is moderate (tier 2) or high (tier 3), notification is to be provided to organizations in the community deemed "likely to encounter" a registrant. For specific information pertaining to sex offender registration and community notification visit the New Jersey Law Network.

    7. Who receives this information?
    The prosecutor's office maintains a list of community organizations which are eligible to receive notification. Organizations to be included in this list are limited to those organizations that own or operate an establishment where children gather under their care, or where the organizations care for women. All public, private and parochial education institutes up through grade 12, licensed day care centers and summer camps will be automatically included in the list and are not needed to register to receive such information. Other community organization must register with the local law enforcement agency in order to be included in the notification list.

    8. Will I always be notified if a convicted sex offender moves into my neighborhood?
    Neighbors who live within the court authorized notification zone will be notified of high-risk offenders.
    Registered community organizations involved with children or with victims of sexual abuse, schools, day care centers and summer camps are notified of moderate and high risk offenders.

    9. How will I be informed about a high risk offender living in my area?
    Law enforcement officer will hand deliver the notice to an adult member of the household. They will provide the locations of all high risk (tier 3) offenders in your neighborhood whom you are likely to encounter.

    10. What am I prohibited from doing?
    When an individual or an organization receives a notification flier from law enforcement that there is a convicted sex offender living in their neighborhood, there are rules which have to be complied in using this information. For example you are not supposed to share the information in this notification flier, or the flier itself, with anyone outside of your household or anyone not in your care or with the media. Any actions taken against the individual named in the notification, including vandalism of property, verbal or written threats of harm, or physical violence against this person, his or her family or employer, will result in arrest and prosecution for criminal acts.
    For more information read Megans' Law rules of conduct.

    11. Why are these rules of conduct in place?
    This information is being made available on the internet to enable you to take appropriate precautions to protect yourself and those in your care from possible harm. Public access to registry information is intended solely for the protection of the public and any exploitation of this information would undermine the efforts in bringing this information to the public and can jeopardize future notifications.

    12. Are all sex offenders required to register with local police?
    Sex offenders who have been released from custody since Megan's Law went into effect on Oct. 31, 1994, are required to register with the police. In addition, offenders who were on parole or probation on the effective date of the law, as well as offenders who have been found to be repetitive and compulsive by experts and the courts--regardless of the date of sentence--are required to register. Some registrants must verify their addresses every 90 days.

    13. Where can I access the internet sex offender registry?
    KlaasKids Foundation For Children has links to Megan's Law sex offender registries by state. Department of Law & Public Safety maintains the New Jersey Sex offender registry.

    14. Are all sex offenders included in this sex offender internet registry?
    No. The sex offender Internet registry includes information pertaining to sex offenders determined to pose a relatively high risk of re-offense (tier 3 offenders) and, with certain exceptions, information about sex offenders found to pose a moderate risk of re-offense (tier 2 offenders). It excludes any information about offenders determined to present a low risk of re-offense (tier 1 offenders).

    15. What information is included in the registry?
    The offender's name and any aliases used, sex offenses committed by the offender, the risk of re-offense, age, race, sex, date of birth, height, weight, hair, eye color and any distinguishing scars or tattoos, a photograph, and the make, model, color, year and license plate number of any vehicle operated by the offender.

    16. Why is the address not included in the new jersey's registry?
    There is currently a legal challenge in federal court which prevents the Internet registry from including registrant home address information.

    17. Do all 50 states maintain this registry?
    While all states do not maintain and internet registry they all have the sex offender registry in some form.
    In some states where the state is not offering the internet registry, counties, cities and individuals have posted the information on their own sites.

    Florida was one of the first states to go online with this information, in 1996. It has one of the most comprehensive sex offender registries on the Web. It includes the offenders' names, addresses, photographs, aliases, crimes and physical descriptions, and it can be searched by zip code, city or offender's name.
    In California, which does not have an online registry, sex offender information is stored in a CD-ROM database at police stations. The public can look at it, but only for 15 minutes, and only after signing forms and handing over a driver's license.
    And there are major differences between the states that do publish registries online. Some state sites, such as Alaska's, are searchable by zip code or city, while others, such as Texas, are more restrictive and require one to search for a specific offender's name.

    18. What is national sex offender registry?
    National sex offender registry inludes information of the sex offenders in all 50 states, but is accessible only to law enforcement authorities. However, the Department of Justice is examining the feasibility of making the information available to the public, possibly on the Internet or through a toll number.

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