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 laws requiring notification about sex offenders who may pose risk to the community.
New Jersey's law, commonly known as "Megan's Law," requires convicted sex offenders to register with local police.
Megan's Law also establishes a three-tier notification process to provide information about sex 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 sex 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 sex offender.
Equipped with the descriptions and whereabouts of sex offenders, communities will be better able to protect their children.
Common Questions about Megan's Law
Any questions regarding Megan's Law may be directed to Assistant Prosecutor Steven Sand, at the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, Telephone (856) 384-5500.
What is registration?
Sex offenders must fill out a registration form and submit it to their local police department. The form requests personal information of the sex offender, including home address and place of employment. The accuracy of the information on the form is confirmed. This information is kept by the Division of State Police in a Sex Offender Registry.
What types of offenses require registration?
The offenses requiring registration include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact if the victim is a minor, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child, endangering the welfare of a child through acts involving pornography featuring a child, promoting prostitution of a child, luring or enticing, kidnapping, criminal restraint, and false imprisonment if the victim is a minor and the offender is not a parent of the victim.
Who is required to register?
Sex offenders who have been convicted since Megan's Law went into effect on October 31, 1994, or who were serving a sentence on the effective date of the law are required to register. Sex offenders who have been found to be repetitive and compulsive by expers and the courts, regardless of the date of conviction, are required to register.
Are juvenile sex offenders required to register?
A juvenile sex offender is a person who commits a sex offense while under the age of 18. Juvenile sex offenders must register like adults.
Are sex offenders convicted in another state required to register when they move to New Jersey?
Sex offenders convicted in another state are required to register within 10 days of moving to New Jersey. In addition, sex offenders convicted in another state are required to register even if they are just attending school or are employed in New Jersey.
Are sex offenders required to report changes of address?
Sex offenders are required to report every change of address. Sex offenders must notify the local police at least 10 days prior to the move. In addition, law enforcement agencies will monitor whether sex offenders are reporting change of addresses. Some sex offenders must verify their addresses annually. Others must verify their addresses every 90 days.
How long must sex offenders register?
All sex offenders subject to Megan's Law must register for the remainder of their lives. Sex offenders may apply to the court to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry if they committed only one offense, have not committed another offense for 15 years, and prove that they are not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others. Juvenile sex offenders may also apply to the court to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry if they were under the age of 14 at the time of their offense but are now over the age of 18.
Is information available on the Internet?
Information is available on the Internet. The law limits the information to be placed on the Internet to all high risk (Tier 3) offenders and some moderate risk (Tier 2) offenders. The law excludes many juvenile sex offenders, except for Tier 3 juvenile sex offenders, most moderate risk offenders whose crimes were committed against members of their families or households, and most moderate sex offenders whose crimes were considered statutory because of age.
What if a sex offender fails to register?
Failure to comply is a third degree crime. If you know someone has been convicted of a crime requiring registration, you can always provide that information to the local police or county prosecutor. However, they will not be able to advise you whether or not that particular sex offender is registered.