Retroactive Application of SORNA

Filed under: Criminal Law, Sex Crimes by Contributor @ July 18, 2014

In Commonwealth v. Perez, 2014 WL 3339161 (Pa.Super. July 09, 2014), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that the retroactive application of SORNA, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Federal Constitution. SORNA requires offenders of certain sex crimes to register with the government so they can be monitored and tracked.

In¬†Perez, the government attempted to retroactively apply SORNA to a crime which was committed before it had been signed into law. The appellant had attempted to argue that the retroactive application was unconstitutional because it increased his registration term from 10 years, the term in place at the time of the crime, to 25 years. The Superior Court rejected this argument, writing that retroactive application was appropriate because the legislature deemed it to be non-punitive and appellant was not able to show that SORNA’s effects were “sufficiently punitive” to overcome this¬†categorization. However, the appellant did not attempt to argue whether the Pennsylvania Constitution provides higher protection, leaving this issue to be resolved in future litigation.

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