The Legal Implications Of Megan’s Law

The Legal Implications Of Megan’s Law

Parenting Help Parenting Help Parenting Help Tips Parenting Tips   On July 29, 1994, a man named Jesse Timmendequas kidnapped, raped, and murdered his neighbor, 7-year-old Megan Kanka. Fifteen years earlier, he had plead guilty to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl. Kanka’s parents were not aware of Timmendequas’s past crime.

The incident eventually led to the passage of the Sexual Offender Act of 1994 (also known as Megan’s Law). The ruling requires sexual offenders who have been convicted of assaults against children to inform police whenever they relocate or change jobs after being released from prison. This requirement can last for a certain number of years – as determined by the court – or for the rest of the offender’s life.

Below, I’ll explain how individual states treat Megan’s Law and keep their communities informed about the presence of sexual offenders. We’ll also explore a few criticisms that have been raised about the ruling.

How States Provide Information

At its foundation, Megan’s Law provides the framework through which law enforcement agencies keep the public informed about convicted sexual offenders. Even though the legal ruling was passed on the federal level, individual states have been given flexibility regarding how the information is distributed. Some provide far greater access to the information than others.

More than a dozen states compile and maintain online databases. Residents can search through them by zip code in order to locate sexual offenders by proximity. The level of data compiled for each offender varies by state; it can range from a simple address to a description of the crimes for which they were convicted. Often, their profile is accompanied by a photo (though, such photos can be outdated).

There are a few states that go a step further; besides requiring offenders to register, they also require them to display a noticeable sign on a window of their residence.

Criticisms Of Megan’s Law

Sexual offenders, lawyers, and civil rights advocates have expressed a number of concerns about Megan’s Law. They argue that providing easy access to information about offenders and their crimes increases the likelihood of their being targeted by the communities in which they live. While vigilantism is rare in these cases, it is a valid concern.

Rights advocates also contend that the legal ruling discourages sexual offenders from registering with law enforcement when they move or change jobs. Indeed, at one point, nearly a quarter of all convicted offenders had failed to properly register.

What are your thoughts about the Megan’s Law rights advocates?  I say let the criminals move into the neighborhoods of those that are liberal about their Civil Rights. I wonder how their opinions would change.
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Author: ParentingMaven

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