In November we featured a blog article about a case in which York County Common Pleas Judge John C. Uhler found lifetime registration requirements for juvenile sex offenders pursuant to SORNA to be unconstitutional under Pennsylvania’s constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The case is now before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and on May 6th the Court heard oral arguments. Judges in York, Monroe, and Lancaster counties have found the registration requirement to be unconstitutional as applied to juveniles because the juvenile justice system is supposed to be rehabilitation-based, juvenile sex offenders are statistically less likely to recidivate, many juvenile sex offenders are victims of sexual abuse themselves, and a “one size fits all” approach does not work for juvenile offenders. In 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court also found juvenile sex offender registries to be unconstitutional.
As it stands, juveniles between 14 and 17 years old who commit rape, aggravated sexual assault, or other serious sex crimes are required to follow the reporting and registry requirements. We will provide an update when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides the case.