Megan’s Law in California
California began making information about sex offenders public in 1995 when it launched the Child Molester Identification Line. Authorities expanded the amount of information available through the Identification Line after Megan’s Law passed. In 2004, lawmakers expanded public access to the information by making it available on the internet.
The California Department of Justice updates the website daily, posting photographs of registered sex offenders on the website, as well as names, addresses, physical descriptions, the offenses of which they were convicted, known aliases and any scars, tattoos or distinguishing marks they may have. Not all offenders appear on the website. Authorities estimate that approximately 25 percent of registered sex offenders are excluded from the site by law.
Those who are required to register with law enforcement as sex offenders receive notice of their obligation prior to release from prison, jail, mental hospital or when they begin probation. All registrants must update their information annually, although some must do so more frequently. Registrants who are homeless must report every 30 days, and those who are deemed sexually violent predators must report every 90 days. If a registrant moves or becomes homeless, he or she must notify authorities within five days.
Authorities take sexual offenses very seriously, and a conviction for such an offense carries onerous reporting requirements and stigma that can last a lifetime. Those facing charges for a sexual offense should seek advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that their rights are protected.