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Megan's Law is the name for a federal law, and informal name for subsequent state laws, in the United States requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders.
The laws were created in response to the murder of Megan Kanka. Federal Megan's Law was enacted as a subsection of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act of 1994, which required sex offenders to register with local law enforcement.
Since only a few states required registration prior to Megan's death, the state level legislation to bring states in compliance —with both the registration requirement of the Jacob Wetterling Act and community notification required by federal Megan's Law— were crafted at the same time.
Under the new legislation, individual states decide what information will be made available and how it should be disseminated. In most cases, this information includes the offender's name, picture, address, incarceration date, and the offense of conviction. In many states, the information is displayed on free public websites, but it can also be published in newspapers or distributed in pamphlets.
At the federal level, Megan's Law requires persons convicted of sex crimes against children to notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment after release from custody including prison or a psychiatric facility. States legislate registration for all sex crimes, even if no minors were involved. In most states, it is a felony to fail to register or fail to update information.
Pennsylvania's General Assembly has determined public safety will be enhanced by making information about registered sexual offenders available to the public through the internet. The laws are intended to give information to the public about so that they can take steps to protect their family from recidivist acts by registered sexual offenders.
Pennsylvania's Megan's Law, 42 Pa.C.S § 9799.32(1), requires the State Police to create and maintain a registry of persons who reside, or is transient, work/carry on a vocation, or attend school in the Commonwealth and who have either been convicted of, entered a plea of guilty to, or have been adjudicated delinquent of certain sexual offenses in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction prior to moving to the Commonwealth.
Parents for Megan's Law – Visit the website for the Parents of Megan’s Law and the Crime Victim’s Center to search for sex offenders in the 50 states. Learn more about sex offender management programs and crime victim legal rights. The non-profit organization works to prevent child sexual abuse and rape, and provide services to victims.
Megan's Law – Pursuant 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.28, the Pennsylvania State Police created the PSP Megan’s Law Website. Any person who uses the information in the Megan’s Law Website to threaten, intimidate, or harass the registrant or their family or otherwise misuse the information, may be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution.
The criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Skinner Law Firm represent clients who have been charged with child sex abuse crimes and sexual abuse crimes in West Chester in Chester County and in Media in Delaware County, PA. Contact our offices at (610) 436-1410 to schedule an initial consultation, either in the office or on the phone.
Sex crimes are the most serious types of offenses under Pennsylvania law. Related offenses include sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, indecent assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent exposure, child pornography, and rape. Contact us to discuss the allegation against you and the most effective way to fight the charges after a wrongful accusation. Let us begin your defense today.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 26, 2016.