Legislation extending Megan's Law passed
On Jan. 26, a bill to extend the reach of Megan's Law was passed by Congress. Sponsored by New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, the new law would extend beyond the United States borders. Under the legislation, the United States is required to notify other countries when a convicted sex offender is traveling abroad.
Megan's Law was passed after a 7-year-old girl was kidnapped and killed by a convicted sex offender who had moved in across the street from the family. The law requires the state to notify the community if the sex offender is living nearby. The other 49 states ultimately enacted similar laws to protect children.
By enacting this legislation, the United States is moving towards protecting children in other countries from convicted sex offenders. Because approximately 4,500 passports were issued to convicted sex offenders in 2008, having a system that allows other countries to keep tabs on them. Additionally, it was hoped that other countries would notify the United States when sex offenders from their countries were planning on traveling to the states.
While these laws do potentially protect children against harm, they can also cause serious problems for someone who was accused of sexual assault. Not only do they face being required to register as a sex offender, they may lose certain licenses and certifications or be unable to work in their profession. Depending on the accused person's unique circumstances and the evidence available, a criminal law attorney may provide a strong defense that could result in lesser punishments.
The defense strategy an attorney may utilize depends on what evidence the prosecution has. In some cases, the only evidence an accuser may have is their word. The attorney may provide an alibi that demonstrates that the accused person could not have been involved in the alleged assault or that no evidence proves that the accused person was responsible.