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Megan's Law

The parents of 7-year old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township did not know that a twice-convicted sex offender was living across the street until that neighbor was charged with the brutal rape and murder of their daughter.

The crime -- occurring only months after a similar incident in Monmouth County -- prompted passage of state law requiring notification about sex offenders who may pose a risk to the community.

New Jersey's law, commonly known as "Megan's Law", required convicted sex offenders to register with local police. Megan's Law also establishes a three-tier notification process to provide information about offenders to law enforcement agencies and, when appropriate, to the public. The type of notification is based on an evaluation of the risk to the community from a particular offender. The Attorney General's Office, in consultation with a special 12-member council, has provided county prosecutors, who must make that evaluation, with the factors to be used in determining the level of risk posed by the offender. Equipped with the descriptions and whereabouts of high risk sex offenders, communities will be better able to protect their children.

 


Common Questions About Megan's Law

What is the purpose of Megan's Law?
Megan's Law is designed to help protect our communities by providing information about convicted sex offenders to law enforcement agencies and, in the case of moderate and high risk offenders, to community organizations and the public. The notice will allow communities to take informed and responsible steps to prevent harm to their children.

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 October 31, 1994, are required to register with their local police department. 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 also required to register. Some registrants must verify their addresses every 90 days.

What types of offenses require registration?
The offenses include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct, endangering the welfare of a child by participating in child pornography, child luring and, if the victim were a minor and the offender not a parent, kidnapping, criminal restraint and false imprisonment.

How does the notification process work?
The State Departments of Corrections and Human Services are responsible for informing county prosecutors about the anticipated release of sex offenders. In turn, the prosecutors must determine the risk to the community -- the likelihood that the offender will commit another crime. Hearings are provided to those offenders who challenge the prosecutor's risk determination or the proposed scope of notification. Notification can proceed when the court issues a final order authorizing the county prosecutor to provide relevant information to the appropriate groups or individuals.

Will I always be notified if a convicted sex offender moves into my neighborhood?
Under the law, sex offenders who reside in the community are classified by prosecutors in one of three "tiers" based on the degree of risk they pose to the public: high (Tier 3), moderate (Tier 2) or low (Tier 1).  Neighbors are notified only of high risk offenders.  Schools and registered community organizations involved in the care of children or women notified of moderate and high risk offenders because of the possibility that pedophiles and sexual predators will be drawn to these places.  Law enforcement agencies are notified of the presence of all sex offenders.

What factors are considered in determining the risk of re-offense?
Megan's Law and its guidelines list numerous factors to be considered in weighing the risk of re-offense, including post-incarceration supervision, the status of therapy or counseling, criminal background, degree of remorse for criminal acts, substance abuse, employment or schooling status, psychological or psychiatric profile and a history of threats or of stalking locations where children congregate.

What information is provided in a notification?
In all three levels of notification, the information provided includes the offender's name, description and photograph, address, place of employment or school if applicable, a description of the offender's vehicle and license plate number and a brief description of the offense.

How will I be informed?
You will receive personal notification of the location of all Tier 3 (high risk) offenders in your neighborhood that you are likely to encounter. A law enforcement official, such as a police officer or investigator from your county prosecutor's office, will come to your door and provide you with the pertinent information about offenders in your neighborhood.

What should I do if I receive a notification?
Reinforce general precautions about staying away from strangers and ask your children to tell you or their caretakers where they will be at all times. Use the information responsibly. Talk to your children. Tell them to treat the sex offender as a stranger. Tell them where the sex offender lives, what he or she looks like and what to do if they encounter or are approached by that person. If you believe that a crime is being committed by a sex offender contact your local law enforcement agency immediately as you would do in any case of suspected criminal activity.

As a citizen you received a notification flier from law enforcement that there is a convicted sex offender living in this neighborhood. You must comply with the following rules:
1. Do share and discuss the information you have received with those residing in your household, such as family members.
2. Do share the information you have received with anyone caring for your children at your residence in your absence.
3. Do take appropriate precautions to protect your children, based on the information provided.
4. Do discuss with your children how to act and what to do when dealing with strangers.
5. Do use the information responsibly, in a manner that will facilitate the safety and well-being of those in your care.
You May Be Subject To Prosecution

WARNING

Doing the following is inappropriate and may result in court action or prosecution being taken against you:
1. Do not share the information in this notification flier, or the flier itself, with anyone outside of your household or anyone not in your care. Do not share the information in this notification flier, or the flier itself, with the media.
2. Do not make any copies of this notification flier, or reproduce it in any way.
3. Do not post this notification flier in a public location, or display it in a place where it is visible to persons who are not members of your household.
4. Do not attempt to harm the offender or his/her property. Do not attempt to harass the offender or make unsolicited, unwanted contact. If you believe the individual is a physical threat to you or children in your care, please contact your local police.
5. Do not take any action against the offenderís family, household members or employer that may in any way harm or harass a person or property.

This flier is provided to you for the sole purpose of giving you information that can assist you in protecting your family. Law enforcement will notify all appropriate community members, schools, organizations, residences and businesses. If you are not certain whether sharing the notification flier with a particular individual or disclosing the notification information would be appropriate under particular circumstances, you should contact the Meganís Law Unit in the County Prosecutorís Office, for specific direction. 

Are there any other steps I can take to protect my family?
Yes. There is no law that can ever completely protect us. Adults need to teach children about basic safety precautions. Check with your child's school to determine whether a program is in place to teach children about strangers. Also, check with the school and other locations where your child spends time on a regular basis to determine whether safety precautions are in place.

What am I prohibited from doing?
The prosecutor and the courts are responsible to determine who should receive notice about the presence of a particular individual in the community. You should not take it upon yourself to provide any information you receive to others in the community; that is the job of the prosecutor and local law enforcement. 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. Vigilantism is not only a crime, it is an action that will undermine the efforts of those who have worked hard to enact this law.

 

A Message From the Attorney General:

Prompted by the tragic murders of Megan Kanka and Amanda Wengert, citizens of this state demanded a law that would let them know when a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood. Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman and the State Legislature responded by approving a series of laws collectively known as "Meganís Law".

Meganís Law created a registration and notification procedure to alert law enforcement, schools, community organizations and neighbors to the presence of a sex offender who authorities believe may pose a risk to the community. This information is designed to enhance public safety and awareness. However, no law can guarantee the protection of our children. There is no substitute for common sense safety precautions, such as teaching our children whom to trust and knowing where they are at all times.

We are all partners in making this law work. We have an obligation to act responsibly with the information we receive. No one has the right to take the law into his or her own hands by threatening or harming a sex offender. Vigilante acts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
 


WARNING

WARNING - Any person who uses the information contained herein to threatin, intimidate or harass another, or who otherwise misuses that information may be subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability.
 

This information is being made available on the Internet to facilitate public access to information about persons who have committed a sex offense, 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 should never be used to threaten, intimidate or harass another. To view sex offender internet registry click here.

 

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