Megan’s Law

Posted by Daniel Rosenberg

April 10, 2014

The History of Megan’s Law

Jesse Timmendequas was charged with the murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey.

Megan had last been seen riding her bike outside her home in West Windsor Township, New Jersey, on July 29. Her parents found her bike on the front lawn and immediately began to search for her. The following day, her body was discovered in Mercer County Park. Jesse Timmendequas, who lived across the street from Kanka and had two (2) prior convictions for sexual assault, was arrested.

In the aftermath of this horrible crime, Megan’s parents lobbied state legislators for a new law, arguing that if they had known about Timmendequas’ background they would have been able to protect their daughter. Kanka’s death inspired Megan’s Law, a statute enacted in 1994 requiring that information about convicted sex felons be available to the public.  A database of all types of sex offenders is now accessible through a 900 number and CD-ROMs at police stations around the state.  Megan’s Law became a federal law in 1996.

Megan’s Law Crimes

Convictions or adjudications of the following crimes will require persons to register under Megan’s Law:

  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
  • Criminal Sexual Contact (if victim is a minor)
  • Kidnapping if victim is under 16 years of age
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child (in certain circumstances)
  • Luring
  • False Imprisonment (if victim is a minor)

If you have been charged with any of these offenses in Burlington County, you should speak with a Burlington County Criminal Lawyer to discuss the potential Megan’s Law consequences as well as any potential for jail.  Megan’s Law also applies to juveniles.  If your son or daughter has been charged with any of these offense, you should speak with a Burlington County Juvenile Lawyer.

Access to Registration Information

The state Departments of Corrections and Human Services are responsible for informing county prosecutors about the anticipated release of sex offenders.  In turn, the prosecutors must determine risk to the community – the likelihood that the offender will commit another crime.  Hearings are provided to those offenders who challenge the prosecutor’s risk determination or the proposed scope of notification.  Notification can proceed when the court issues a final order authorizing the county prosecutor to provide relevant information to the appropriate groups of individuals.  Sex offenders who reside in the community are classified by prosecutors in one of three “tiers” based on the degree of risk they pose to the public.  The sex offender Internet registry includes information pertaining to sex offenders determined to pose a relatively high risk of re-offense (tier 3 offenders) and, with certain exceptions, information about sex offenders found to pose a moderate risk of re-offense (tier 2 offenders).  The Internet registry excludes any information about offenders determined to present a low risk of re-offense (tier 1 offenders).  However, law enforcement agencies are notified of the presence of all sex offenders.

Removal From Megan’s Law

Individuals placed on Megan’s Law may make application to the Superior Court of New Jersey to terminate their Megan’s Law Requirement if that person has not committed another offense within 15 years following their conviction or release from a correctional facility.

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