Megan's Law: Obtaining Sex Offender Information
Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kanka's sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area.
In order to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future, on September 6, 1996, California State Assembly Bill 1562 was adopted, implementing California's version of the federal "Megan's Law."
For more information, visit the California Megan's Law Database
On December 15, 2004, the public was given the ability to view sex offenders on the new internet state operated Megan's Law Web site. This web site was the result of California Assembly Bill 488 being signed into law on September 24, 2004. The web site is accessible either directly at www.meganslaw.ca.gov or through a link on the California Attorney General's Home Page at www.ag.ca.gov.
This web site provides the public with the below listed information on California registered sex offenders:
- name and any known aliases used
specific residence address or zip code
offense conviction(s) related to their registration requirement
This web site includes a mapping feature which allows the users to search for the location of a sex offender by name, address, city, county, or proximity to parks and schools.
Megan's Law Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When are sex offenders required to register with local authorities?
A. Pursuant to section 290 of the California Penal Code, individuals convicted of committing or attempting certain sex crimes are required to register with the local police department within five working days of his or her release from prison or jail. Additionally, sex offenders must re-register every year within five working days of his or her birthday, moving, or changing his or her name. With few exceptions, the registration requirement is a lifetime mandate.
During annual registration, the registered sex offender is required to verify his or her name and address or temporary location. Failure to properly register may be a felony and may count as a "Third Strike."
Q. Is the information on the Megan's Law database accurate?
A. Many of the sex offender registrants on the database have failed to comply with California's registration laws, and therefore the zip code listed for some offenders may not be up-to-date. Since the database has been available, the public has helped law enforcement identify offenders who are not registered with the correct address. Thanks to toughened California laws requiring annual registration, and making it a felony in some cases not to do so, it is estimated that the majority of California's registered sex offenders are in compliance with the registration requirement. This is a dramatic turnaround from a few years ago when a smaller percentage of the offenders in the state were thought to be properly registered. The California Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation, has agents assigned to Sexual Predator Apprehension Teams (SPATs) to work with local law enforcement to arrest sex offenders who do not comply with registration laws. The SPATs, along with a concerted effort by many local law enforcement agencies, deserve much of the credit for increasing the percentage of offenders who are properly registered.
Q. Why are local law enforcement agencies assigned the responsibility to determine when to notify the public about a registered sex offender?
A. The decision to disseminate information has been given to the local law enforcement agencies within the parameters of the Megan's Law statute because they are best positioned to determine what level and method of notification is appropriate for their community.
Courtesy of California Attorney General Dan Lungren's Office, updated May 1998
Notice of Duty to Register as a Sex Offender
IF YOU HAVE EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A SEX OFFENSE, you may be required to register under California law as a sex offender.
The registration law may have changed since you were convicted. The sex offense for which you were convicted may have been added to the law requiring registration after the date of your conviction. If the offense was added to the registration law after your conviction date, you may not have received personal notice of your duty to register as a sex offender.
Check with your local law enforcement agency to see if the sex offense for which you were convicted requires registration today. To register, go to the police department in the city where you reside or are located, or to the sheriff's department if you reside or are located in an unincorporated area. IT IS A CRIME TO FAIL TO REGISTER.
If you have a question about your sex offense conviction or need to know whether your out-of-state conviction is the equivalent of a registrable sex offense in California, WRITE TO:
California Department of Justice
Sex and Arson Registration Program
P.O. Box 903387
Sacramento, CA 94203-3870