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Frequently Asked Questions about Sex Offenders and Megan's Law
Interested in some information? Check our FAQ list to see if our website lists the answer. If not, feel free to contact us by phone or email for help.


When are sex offenders required to register with local authorities?

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."

What is the criteria to be designated a "high-risk" sex offender?

The California Department of Justice categorizes sex offenders as high-risk when his or her criminal history meets the statutory definition of high-risk, which includes offenders who have committed at least two violent offenses, at least one of which was a violent sex offense. A statutory definition of "high-risk" offender is provided in section 290(n)(1) of the California Penal Code.

What is "Megan's Law"?

The so-called "Megan's Law," is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township, N.J., who was killed. Charged with the crime was a convicted sex offender who the Kankas were unaware lived across the street from them. 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."

The Fairfax Police Department is firmly committed to protecting young people from sexual predators and works with the Marin County Sheriff's Department to provide the public with access to certain sex offender information prepared by the Department of Justice.

Viewing Meganís Law via the DOJ website.

The California Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General have created a publicly accessible website, where people can view the list of registered sex offenders as required by Meganís Law.

This website can be accessed by anyone, either on their home computers or at any public access site. There is no longer a need to let them into the police department to use our Terminals. If they do not have a computer at home, there are terminals available at the Fairfax Library for public usage.

The site is self-explanatory and easily navigable. There is a section that describes the site and a disclaimer that people must read and acknowledge prior to accessing the site. The database can be searched by offender name, by zip code, city and county and neighborhood.

The website is http://meganslaw.ca.gov.

Is the information on the Megan's Law website accurate?

Many of the sex offender registrants on the website 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 website (and the CD-ROM that preceded it) 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.

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 in Marin County go to the Marin County Sheriff's Department during regular business hours. In other counties check with your local law enforcement agency or local sheriff's department for registration information. 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

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