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What is Megan’s Law?

If you have ever been convicted in any state of a sex-related crime involving a child and are now living in California, you must register as a sex offender in this state. The California Department of Justice’s Megan’s Law Website sets forth full information regarding Megan’s Law, Section 290.46 of the California Penal Code, that was passed in 1996. The law is named for seven-year-old Megan Kanka, whose neighbor raped and murdered her. Although he was a known child molester, he nevertheless had been allowed to move across the street from Megan’s family without their knowledge.

Subsequent to Megan’s death, her parents advocated for public warnings and information about sex offenders so that other families could easily access such information and be aware of sex offenders living in their neighborhood. Today, all states have passed some form of Megan’s Law, and the resulting state sex offender registries give the public easy access to information about where convicted child sex offenders are living.

California’s Megan’s Law provisions

In California, child sex offender information is published on the Megan’s Law Website. The information comes from the California Sex and Arson Registry, which is where you must register through a local law enforcement agency. You are required to provide the following:

  • Your name and current address
  • Any alias you use or have used in the past
  • Your physical description, including a photograph
  • Your date of birth
  • Your race and gender
  • Your criminal history, including all child sex crimes for which you were convicted and the jurisdiction(s) in which you were convicted

In addition, law enforcement officials will need to know your history of incarceration; that is, each time you were sentenced to prison and each time you were released. All of this information will be posted on the Megan’s Law Website in accordance with California law. Your employer’s name and address, however, will not be posted, nor will any part of your criminal history that is not directly related to a child sex-related crime conviction. This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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