Megan’s Law is a federal law that mandates those convicted of sex crimes against children to register with local law enforcement agenciesAll 50 states and the District of Columbia have a sex offender registry for men and women convicted of sex-related crimes, and they have to register for a set period of time, like 10 yearsNational and state registry information is obtainable to the community, most easily via the InternetMany states necessitate juveniles to register if they’ve been convicted of a sex-crimeThe new federal Adam Walsh Act requires the states to register juvenile offenders, and often for longer periods of time than a state normally requiresIndividuals in the real estate market, like apartment managers and home sellers, may have to tell prospective renters and buyers about convicted sex offenders living in the area.
What is Megan’s Law?
Thanks to Megan’s Law, passed by Congress in 1996 as an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children’s Act, each and every state and the District of Columbia necessitate sex offenders to register with state or local law enforcement officials just after being released from jail. These laws aid ordinary citizens keep themselves and their families safe and sound by giving them access to info about potentially dangerous sex offenders living in their neighborhoods.
The original Megan’s Law was enacted in 1994 after seven-year-old Megan Kanka was lured into a neighbor’s home then brutally raped and murdered by a recognized sex offender. The offense triggered a nationwide movement toward developing state sex offender registries. Although the specifics vary from state to state, Megan’s Law requires sex offenders to notify state or local law enforcement agencies of any change of address after being released from prison. Law enforcement officials then notify the public of sex offenders living in their neighborhoods.
Adam Walsh Act
In 2007, President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (called the “Adam Walsh Act,” or AWA). It requires registration for persons guilty of sex-crimes against minors. It requires each state to build and keep a sex offender registry, and it makes the national sex offender registry. After a sex offender is released from prison, he has to register with the state where he lives, and he has to keep it current. That is, he has to update his registry if he shifts addresses, for example.
The AWA has three classifications or “Tiers” of sexual offenders: Tier I is for the least serious crimes and Tier III is for the most serious. And, the registration period depends on the Tier. A sex offender must re-register and update his registration for:
- 15 years, if the conviction is a Tier I crime
- 25 years for a Tier II conviction, and
- Life, if it’s a Trier III conviction
In addition, the registration requirement is retroactive. That means it is applicable to persons who were convicted before the AWA was passed. For example, if you were convicted of Tier II crime 15 years, you must register under the AWA.
The states had to create a registration system that followed the AWA by July 26, 2009. However, that date has been extended to July 27, 2010. States that don’s meet that deadline run the risk of losing federal grant money.