HISTORY & ENACTMENT OF MEGAN'S LAW
Megan's Law is a general term for laws enacted by both Federal and State governments that authorize law enforcement agencies to publish and notify communities that a convicted sex offender is present in their community whether it be as a resident or employee in a certain area.
The law stems from the rape and murder of a seven (7) year old girl named Megan Kanka by a convicted sex offender living across the street from her home. Due to outrage over the matter the State of New Jersey passed Megan's Law in 1994.
In 1996 the U.S. Congress adopted Megan's Law into the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children's Act. Today every Stat in the Union is required to notify members of its community of the residences and places of employment of convicted sex offenders.
In 1996 Bill Clinton's administration strengthened the law by requiring all convicted sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agency and require law enforcement agencies to grant complete access of convicted sex offender databases to the public.
THE STATUTORY DEFINITION OF MEGAN'S LAW
Under Federal law States must make private and personal information about registered sex offenders available to the community. This is very open to interpretation and the federal government has adopted a policy whereby it is up to the States to determine the route and criteria that must be disseminated to the public. The list of offenses that may be considered in applying Megan's Law varies from State to State, some being very strict in their interpretation of a sex offender and others being very lenient. All States has sex offender registration but only twenty-eight (28) require juveniles convicted of sex offenses to register with their local law enforcement community. Five (5) States require that juveniles tried as adults to register and New Jersey has the strictest laws which require all those individuals fourteen (14) and over to register as convicted sex offenders, whether tried as a juvenile or adult.
The parameters of which offenders need to be registered is complicated and include a number of factors that are left to the local law enforcement agencies. These include whether the offender is under post-incarceration supervision, the likelihood of being a repeat offender, substance abuse, etc.
WHAT INFORMATION MUST BE SUPPLIED?
If a court determines that an individual is a convicted sex offender, upon that individual re-entry into the community he/she must register with their local law enforcement community and provide certain information. This information varies from State to State but usually includes the individuals name, description, photographs, residential address, and place of employment, license plate and driver's license numbers and a description of the offenses that the individual was convicted of.
For further information there are numerous websites maintained by your local law enforcement agency that will give you this information and often times a map with the exact location of any sex offender living in your community.