Megan's Law Law and Legal Definition

Megan's Law was signed on May 17, 1996 by President Clinton. The statute has two components:

1. Sex Offender Registration – The 1994 Jacob Wetterling Act requires the States to register individuals convicted of sex crimes against children. Sex offender registration laws are justified because:

  • Sex offenders have a high rate of re-offending after release from custody;
  • Public protection from sex offenders is a primary governmental interest;
  • The privacy interests of persons convicted of sex offenses are subordinate to the government’s interest in public safety;
  • Public agencies and the general public need information available to help protect the public safety.

Community Notification – States have discretion to establish criteria for disclosure, but ar required to make private and personal information on registered sex offenders available to the public. Community notification:

  • Aids police investigations;
  • Establishes legal grounds to detain known offenders;
  • Deters sex offenders from committing new offenses;
  • Informs the public in order that they may protect children from victimization.