Megan's Law

In 1947, California implemented the nation's first sex offender registration program to help track the whereabouts of persons convicted of specific sex crimes. The registration requirement is for life unless the offender is relieved of this responsibility through legal processes. In 1996, California enacted "Megan's Law," which provides the public with photographs and descriptive information on serious sex offenders residing in California who have been convicted of committing sex crimes and are required to register their whereabouts with local law enforcement.

 

    Megan Kanka Photo                                                                 

Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. By 1996, the United States Congress passed legislation dubbed "Megan's Law," which required states to enact similar laws allowing for the release of relevant information to protect the public from sexual offenders. On May 17, 1996, President Clinton signed Megan's Law. On September 25, 1996, then Governor Pete Wilson signed into law California's version of Megan's Law. The law became effective in January of 1997.

 

Megan's Law Requires Two Components

Sex Offender Registration - The 1994 Jacob Wetterling Act requires the States to register individuals convicted of sex crimes against children. Sex offender registration laws are necessary because:

 

  • Sex offenders pose a high risk of re-offending after release from custody
  • Protecting the public from sex offenders is a primary governmental interest
  • The privacy interests of persons convicted of sex offenses are less important than the government’s interest in public safety
  • Release of certain information about sex offenders to public agencies and the general public will assist in protecting the public safety
     

Community Notification - Megan’s Law allows the States discretion to establish criteria for disclosure, but compels them to make private and personal information on registered sex offenders available to the public. Community notification:
 

  • Assists law enforcement in investigations
  • Establishes legal grounds to hold known offenders
  • Deters sex offenders from committing new offenses
  • Offers citizens information they can use to protect children from victimization
     

NOTE: Community Notification - You may also receive information about serious sex offenders through your local law enforcement agency.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

You can reduce the risk to yourself and your family by taking simple precautions:

  • Practice good security - at home, at the office, and in your vehicle.
  • Be alert to locations and situations that make you and your family vulnerable to crime, and be aware of people around you and your family.
  • Educate yourself on crime prevention tactics. For assistance, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Crime and Violence Prevention Center of the California Attorney General's Office.
  • Teach your children to avoid situations that put them in danger of abuse, molestation or abduction. Help protect your child by establishing a home environment where your child feels safe to tell you anything, without fear of shame, ridicule or punishment.


A safe and supportive home environment, combined with clear instructions about what behavior is acceptable and what is not, will guide your child's actions and encourage your child to tell you if something improper happens.
 
Many parents warn their children not to talk to strangers. More often than not; an abuser or abductor is known to the child. He or she can be a school bus driver, teacher, relative, neighbor, or family friend.
 
It is best to teach your child to avoid certain situations or actions. Children should know from an early age that some behavior isn't acceptable, and that they have the right to tell an adult to leave them alone.


Here are some specific rules you can teach your child:

  • Stay away from people who call you near their car, even if they offer to take you somewhere exciting.
  • If someone tries to take you away, yell, "This person is not my father (or mother) and scream.
  • If you get lost in a store, find another mom with children or go to the checkout counter. Don't wander around on your own.
  • You don't have to keep secrets from your parents. No one can hurt your parents or pets if you tell what happened.
  • No one should touch you in the parts covered by your bathing suit, and you should not be asked to touch anyone there.
  • Don't let anyone take your picture without permission from your parents or teacher.