Megan's Law


NYS Sex Offender Registration Act

1997 Gov. George E. Pataki message (excerpts):

    . . . We have also enacted the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act - Megan's Law . . .

    The Act's principal sponsors - Senator Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Daniel Feldman - deserve great credit.  But as they would agree, the most credit goes to three parents who came to Albany and spoke eloquently for the law:  Maureen Kanka, the mother of Megan Kanka; Robert Wood, the father of Sara Anne Wood; and Mark Klaas, the father of Polly Klaas.  Their words were moving, and their message was irrefutable:   If law enforcement can know that a sex offender is living in the community, parents should have that knowledge as well.

    Parents can now have that knowledge.  The Act requires convicted sex offenders to register annually for a period of at least ten years and empowers parents to learn about the presence of such offenders in their community.  They can call a 900 telephone number and inquire about a person whom they are considering hiring to care for their children.  Or they can visit their local law enforcement agency and examine a subdirectory containing photographs of all high-risk offenders residing in the State.

    I frequently remind audiences about the tragic case of four-year old My Ly Nghiem, who was raped and murdered in Binghamton, New York, on June 9, 1995.   My Ly's assailant had three prior convictions for molesting young children.   He was working in her building as a "caretaker."  If the Act had been in effect, My Ly's parents could have known about his criminal history and taken steps to protect their daughter from him.  Other parents now have that ability.   I trust the information will be used responsibly to promote public safety in our State. 

Questions and Answers
About the Registry

  1. Who must register?

          The Act requires anyone on parole or probation for a sex offense on January 21, 1996, to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).  In addition, sex offenders sentenced to probation, local jail, or state prison after that date must register upon their return to the community.


    2.  For how long must an offender register?

    All sex offenders must register annually for a period of at least 10 years. Offenders who are classified as "high risk" must personally verify their address with local law enforcement every 90 days.


   3.  What happens if an offender fails to register?

        The failure to register is a crime.  A first offense is a class A misdemeanor; a repeat offense is a class D felony.


  4.  How can one learn if a person is listed in the registry?

       The Act has three distinct procedures for community notification:  First, your local law enforcement agency is notified whenever a sex offender moves into your community.  That agency may notify schools and other "entities with vulnerable populations" about the offender's presence if the offender poses a threat to public safety.  Second, the act establishes a 900 telephone number which you can call to inquire whether a person is listed in the registry.  Third, the Act provides for the distribution of an annual subdirectory of high-risk offenders to law enforcement agencies throughout the State.  You can review that subdirectory, which will include photographs of all such offenders.

5.  How much information can be disseminated about an offender?

The available information depends upon the offender's level of risk.  For offenders determined to pose a low risk, very little information can be disseminated.   A person calling the 900 number will learn only that the offender is listed in the registry.  For high-risk offenders a wealth of information is publicly available, including the offender's address, his photograph, his modus operandi, and any special conditions imposed upon him by the court or parole authorities.

6.  Who determines an offender's risk level?

There are three levels of risk:  Level 1 (low), Level 2 (moderate), and Level 3 (high).  As a general rule, the sentencing court will make the risk assessment either at the time of sentence (in probation cases) or when the offender is released from custody (in jail or prison cases).  The Act also establishes a Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders to make recommendations to the court in jail and prison cases.

7.  What limits are imposed on a person who obtains information about an offender from the registry?

The Act presumes that information will be used responsibly to promote public safety.  Persons or entities receiving information may disseminate it to others at their discretion.  The information may not be used to commit a crime against a person listed in the registry or to engage in illegal discrimination or harassment against such a person.

900 Telephone Number

     The Sex Offender Registration Act establishes a 900 telephone number (1-900-288-3838) which parents, employers, and others can call to determine whether a person is a convicted sex offender listed in the registry.  If the person is listed in the registry you will be informed of that fact, and you will receive additional information about the offender if he poses a threat to public safety.   To request information, you must be at least 18 years of age and must provide your name, address, and telephone number.

     The registry is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on State holidays.  For a fifty cent fee (which will appear on your monthly telephone bill), you can inquire about one person's status.  You should be prepared to provide the name of the person for whom you want the registry searched, along with at least one of the following identifiers:  the person's street address and apartment number, driver's license, social security number, or birth date.   Additional information -- eye color, hair color, ethnicity, height, weight, distinctive markings--may be helpful, but is not required.  Based on the information you provide, a trained employee will determine whether the person is listed in the registry.

     The 900 telephone number is not a crime hotline;   suspected criminal activity should be reported to your police department.

Sex Offender Registry Website for list of highest risk (Level 3) offenders:  click here.

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