On December 18, 2015, the bill, H.R. 515, also known as International Megan’s Law, passed the Senate, and will now go before the President of the United States to be either signed into law or vetoed. The bill, introduced by New Jersey House Representative Christopher Smith, was introduced before the House on January 22, 2015, and was passed by the House on January 26, 2015. This bill will have significant effects on the ability for convicted sex offenders to travel outside of the United States if it is signed into law by the President.
The bill was originally entitled, “International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.” The title was amended and broadened by the Senate to: “International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes through the Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders.” If the bill passes into law, a foreign destination country will be notified of a child-sex offender’s impending plans to travel abroad, and the foreign country may have the ability to reject an offender from entering the country.
The mechanism that will implement notification will be the “Angel Watch Center.” The Center’s primary job is to collect information from convicted sex offenders, and notify the destination country of the offender’s intent to travel. The Senate’s amendment also empowers the Center to withhold notification in specific instances. In addition, the Center will attempt to create a registration/verification system, either electronically or telephonically, for the offender while travelling abroad. The Angel Watch Center is also charged to do the following:
- Create an archival system to maintain all internal decisions related to the non-notification of a foreign country, and responses from foreign countries, etc.;
- Conduct an annual review to ensure that the Center is following established notification procedure; and
- Establish a mechanism to receive complaints from sex offenders affected by notifications of destination countries.
The passage of International Megan’s Law would also require all convicted sex offenders to have their current passports reissued with the words “SEX OFFENDER” prominently displayed on the passport. Any individual convicted of a sex crime in the future will need to have a new passport issued with the same provisions.
If you feel that you or a loved one may be affected by this bill, contact the lawyers at Maynard & Sumner, LLC for a free consultation to discuss your options.