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
The crime --
occurring only months after a similar incident in Monmouth County --
prompted passage of state law requiring notification about sex
offenders who may pose a risk to the community.
New Jersey's law,
commonly known as "Megan's Law", required convicted sex offenders to
register with local police. Megan's Law also establishes a three-tier
notification process to provide information about 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 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 offender. Equipped with the
descriptions and whereabouts of high risk sex offenders, communities
will be better able to protect their children.
Questions About Megan's Law
What is the
purpose of Megan's Law?
Megan's Law is designed to help protect our communities by providing
information about convicted sex offenders to law enforcement agencies
and, in the case of moderate and high risk offenders, to community
organizations and the public. The notice will allow communities to
take informed and responsible steps to prevent harm to their children.
Are all sex
offenders required to register with local police?
Sex offenders who have been released from custody since Megan's Law
went into effect on October 31, 1994, are required to register with
their local police department. In addition, offenders who were on
parole or probation on the effective date of the law, as well as
offenders who have been found to be repetitive and compulsive by
experts and the courts -- regardless of the date of sentence -- are
also required to register. Some registrants must verify their
addresses every 90 days.
What types of
offenses require registration?
The offenses include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault,
aggravated criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child
by engaging in sexual conduct, endangering the welfare of a child by
participating in child pornography, child luring and, if the victim
were a minor and the offender not a parent, kidnapping, criminal
restraint and false imprisonment.
How does the
notification process work?
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 the
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 or individuals.
Will I always
be notified if a convicted sex offender moves into my neighborhood?
Under the law, 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: high (Tier 3), moderate (Tier 2) or
low (Tier 1). Neighbors are notified only of high risk offenders.
Schools and registered community organizations involved in the care of
children or women notified of moderate and high risk offenders because
of the possibility that pedophiles and sexual predators will be drawn
to these places. Law enforcement agencies are notified of the
presence of all sex offenders.
are considered in determining the risk of re-offense?
Megan's Law and its guidelines list numerous factors to be considered
in weighing the risk of re-offense, including post-incarceration
supervision, the status of therapy or counseling, criminal background,
degree of remorse for criminal acts, substance abuse, employment or
schooling status, psychological or psychiatric profile and a history
of threats or of stalking locations where children congregate.
information is provided in a notification?
In all three levels of notification, the information provided includes
the offender's name, description and photograph, address, place of
employment or school if applicable, a description of the offender's
vehicle and license plate number and a brief description of the
How will I be
You will receive personal notification of the location of all Tier 3
(high risk) offenders in your neighborhood that you are likely to
encounter. A law enforcement official, such as a police officer or
investigator from your county prosecutor's office, will come to your
door and provide you with the pertinent information about offenders in
What should I
do if I receive a notification?
Reinforce general precautions about staying away from strangers and
ask your children to tell you or their caretakers where they will be
at all times. Use the information responsibly. Talk to your children.
Tell them to treat the sex offender as a stranger. Tell them where the
sex offender lives, what he or she looks like and what to do if they
encounter or are approached by that person. If you believe that a
crime is being committed by a sex offender contact your local law
enforcement agency immediately as you would do in any case of
suspected criminal activity.
As a citizen you received a
notification flier from law enforcement that there is a convicted sex
offender living in this neighborhood. You must comply with the
1. Do share
and discuss the information you have received with those residing in
your household, such as family members.
2. Do share the information you have received with anyone caring for
your children at your residence in your absence.
3. Do take appropriate precautions to protect your children, based on
the information provided.
4. Do discuss with your children how to act and what to do when
dealing with strangers.
5. Do use the information responsibly, in a manner that will
facilitate the safety and well-being of those in your care.
following is inappropriate and may result in court action or
prosecution being taken against you:
1. Do not
share the information in this notification flier, or the flier itself,
with anyone outside of your household or anyone not in your care. Do
not share the information in this notification flier, or the flier
itself, with the media.
2. Do not make any copies of this notification flier, or reproduce it
in any way.
3. Do not post this notification flier in a public location, or
display it in a place where it is visible to persons who are not
members of your household.
4. Do not attempt to harm the offender or his/her property. Do not
attempt to harass the offender or make unsolicited, unwanted contact.
If you believe the individual is a physical threat to you or children
in your care, please contact your local police.
5. Do not take any action against the offenderís family, household
members or employer that may in any way harm or harass a person or
This flier is provided to you for the sole purpose of giving you
information that can assist you in protecting your family. Law
enforcement will notify all appropriate community members, schools,
organizations, residences and businesses. If you are not certain
whether sharing the notification flier with a particular individual or
disclosing the notification information would be appropriate under
particular circumstances, you should contact the Meganís Law Unit in
the County Prosecutorís Office, for specific direction.
Are there any
other steps I can take to protect my family?
Yes. There is no law that can ever completely protect us. Adults need
to teach children about basic safety precautions. Check with your
child's school to determine whether a program is in place to teach
children about strangers. Also, check with the school and other
locations where your child spends time on a regular basis to determine
whether safety precautions are in place.
What am I
prohibited from doing?
The prosecutor and the courts are responsible to determine who should
receive notice about the presence of a particular individual in the
community. You should not take it upon yourself to provide any
information you receive to others in the community; that is the job of
the prosecutor and local law enforcement. Any actions taken against
the individual named in the notification, including vandalism of
property, verbal or written threats of harm, or physical violence
against this person, his or her family or employer, will result in
arrest and prosecution for criminal acts. Vigilantism is not only a
crime, it is an action that will undermine the efforts of those who
have worked hard to enact this law.
A Message From the Attorney
Prompted by the tragic
murders of Megan Kanka and Amanda Wengert, citizens of this state
demanded a law that would let them know when a convicted sex offender
is living in their neighborhood. Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman and
the State Legislature responded by approving a series of laws
collectively known as "Meganís Law".
Meganís Law created a
registration and notification procedure to alert law enforcement,
schools, community organizations and neighbors to the presence of a
sex offender who authorities believe may pose a risk to the community.
This information is designed to enhance public safety and awareness.
However, no law can guarantee the protection of our children. There is
no substitute for common sense safety precautions, such as teaching
our children whom to trust and knowing where they are at all times.
We are all partners in
making this law work. We have an obligation to act responsibly with
the information we receive. No one has the right to take the law into
his or her own hands by threatening or harming a sex offender.
Vigilante acts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
This information is
being made available on the Internet to facilitate public access to
information about persons who have committed a sex offense, to enable
you to take appropriate precautions to protect yourself and those in
your care from possible harm. Public access to registry information is
intended solely for the protection of the public, and should never be
used to threaten, intimidate or harass another. To view sex offender
internet registry click