|Removal from Sex Offender Website|
Megan's Law was enacted in 1996, permitting local law enforcement agencies to notify the public regarding the names and locations of most convicted sex offenders. The law was inspired by the death of Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered by a neighbor who, unbeknownst to her parents, was also a convicted sex offender. As a result of this hideous crime, a movement began to inform the public of those child molesters who live amongst us.
California requires those convicted of most sex offenses to register with their local law enforcement agency. In addition to registration, Penal Code section 290.46 states California's "Department of Justice shall make available information concerning persons who are required to register [as sex offenders] to the public via an Internet Web site." The Sex Offender Tracking Program at the California Department of Justice maintains the registered sex offender database at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov. The Megan's Law website permits users to search for sex offenders by name or specific neighborhood.
California has the largest number of registered sex offenders of any state. Currently, more than 85,000 convicted sex offenders in California are required to register with law enforcement. The Megan's Law website lists the names and home addresses of over 33,000 of these registered sex offenders. An additional 30,000 registrants are simply listed by their name and residential zip code. The remaining 22,000 registered sex offenders are not listed on the Megan's Law website. Nonetheless, many argue the sex offender registration law casts too wide a net and permits the Megan's Law website to unfairly disclose the names and whereabouts of individuals who are not threats to the community, but simply those convicted of relatively minor offenses.
Some sex offenders who are currently listed on the Megan's Law website may petition to have their name and address removed if they received probation for any one of the following offenses:
1. Sexual Battery by Restraint (Penal Code section 243.4(a));
2. Misdemeanor Child Molestation (Penal Code section 647.6 (formerly Penal Code section 647a)); or
3. Any sex offense in which the victim was related to the sex offender and the sexual act involved neither penetration nor oral copulation.
Nevertheless, sex offenders who are successfully removed from the Megan's Law website must still register as sex offenders with their local law enforcement agency.
A talented defense attorney can help an eligible registrant remove their name and address from the Megan's Law website. However, those wishing such relief should act as soon as possible because eligibility for removal will become much more restricted in the future. Beginning January 1, 2012, a registered sex offender will not be removed from the Megan's Law website unless a State-Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders (SARATSO) deems the individual a "risk level of low or moderate-low." If you are registered sex offender, seek the assistance of a knowledgeable defense lawyer to free you from the grasp of Megan's Law.