More than two decades ago, 7-year-old Megan Kanka was murdered and sexually assaulted by her neighbor. After discovering that the man who committed the act was a convicted sex offender, Megan’s parents set in motion changes that would come to define the national policy towards sex offenders. Today the collection of laws which require individuals convicted of sexual crimes to register in publically available databases are named after Megan.
Megan’s Law is intended to carry multiple benefits and keep communities safe after the release of a sexual offender. On one hand, the potential for lifelong repercussions may act as a powerful deterrent against committing crimes of a sexual nature. In theory, this should lead to drops in the crime rates where the law is strongly enforced. Additionally, the ability to easily access information on sexual offenders can provide individuals with information on who exactly is living in their community. In Texas, the online database can be found here.
Criticism of Megan’s Law
Since its origin, the law has come to include a wider range of sexual offenses and has been adopted in some form by every state. While laws that aim to protect communities from sexual offenders have many passionate and zealous advocates, Megan’s law also has its share of critics. The law disciplines criminals harshly and many assert that punishments go too far, possibly even infringing on the rights of those convicted. There are few groups that draw as much public scorn and disapproval as sex offenders and once convicted, individuals will typically be registered on public lists for life. Details about offenders are then made public including their name, address, pictures, age, and the crimes for which they were convicted.
The ease at which this information is accessed can lead to offender’s becoming social outcasts, which does little to reduce, and may actually increase, the risk of repeat offense. It may also put the physical safety of offenders in danger of vigilantism. In certain cases, when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood, the state will proactively provide their information to the members of that community. While this may be appropriate for the more serious crimes, critics have called into question the law’s overall scope, claiming that it punishes many who pose little or no continued threat.
Charged with a Sex Crime? Call (817) 882-9977
The consequences to individuals publically labeled as “sex offenders” can be unique and difficult to quantify. While the severity of punishments associated with sex crimes remains a topic of debate, the potential consequences of registration as a sex offender are very real. If you have been arrested or accused of a sex crime, protecting your future begins with a call to the Law Office of Samuel R. Terry. When your freedom and reputation are on the line, contact the firm’s Fort Worth criminal defense attorney and rest assured that your case is in experienced and knowledgeable hands.
Discuss your case with the firm in an initial consultation and learn about your legal options.