Megan's Law -

       Most people have heard of Megan's Law but few people outside the legal field really understand what it does and what it doesn't do. First of all, Megan's Law was enacted in response to what happened to seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who in 1994, was brutally raped and murdered by the new neighbor across the street in Hamilton, New Jersey. The perpetrator, Jesse Timmendequas, was a repeat violent sexual offender. The hue and cry centered around the fact that the public was not told when sexual offenders were being released and where they were living.

California's Megan Law

       California has required most sexual offenders to register with their local law enforcement agencies, either the City Police Department or the Sheriff's Department. Originally, if a person wanted to find out if someone was a convicted sex offender, they would have to personally visit their local law enforcement offices. In 1994, this information became available to the public through the Internet. In the following year, the Child Molester Identification Line included the residence of the offenders.

List of Sex Offenders on the Internet

       In 1996, California's Megan Law created a website that the public can use to locate certain California sex offenders. The current website is maintained by the California Department of Justice and it lists more than 63,000 registered sex offenders. Home addressesare shown for 33,500 of the people. There are 22,000 people who are registered sex offenders but are not on the list to the public.

Registration into Categories

       Sex offenses are divided into different categories for purposes of the registration. The most serious offenders must register their home addresses, while other offenders will show up only under their zip code and some other not listed at all. All offenders are required to give the local law enforcement all the information; just some of that information may be withheld from the website under the current regulations. Many of the registration requirements will also apply to a juvenile offender.

Penal Code §290 - Updating Addresses

       Registered sex offenders are required under Penal Code §290 to update their address information annually, within five working days of their birthday, even if there is no change in their address. Sexually violent predators must update their registration every 90 days. Any change of address requires the registrant to notify local law enforcement within 5 days.

Exclusion of Offenders to Website

       Certain people find themselves erroneously placed on the Megan's Law website. There is a process to apply for exclusion from the Internet web site. The people who may qualify are those who only registrable sex offenses are for: (1) sexual battery by restraint (Penal Code § 243.4, subd. (a)); (2) misdemeanor child molestation (Penal Code § 647.6, or former section 647a); or (3) any offense which did not involve penetration or oral copulation, the victim of which was a child, stepchild, grandchild, or sibling of the offender, and for which the offender successfully completed or is successfully completing probation. Information on how to apply for exclusion and the necessary form can be found at the web site:

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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