In July 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the current version of Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registry law was punitive, making it unconstitutional to impose retroactively. The effects of this decision would have removed thousands of people from the registry who were sentenced before the current version of the state’s registration law (SORNA) took effect Dec. 20, 2012.
However, State Rep. Ron Marisco, R-Dauphin County, introduced a bill to keep intact the current version of the state’s sexual offender registry for anyone whose offenses occurred after the law was enacted, and put back in place a previous version of the law for anyone whose offense occurred prior to the 2012 law.
House Bill 1952 effectively amends several portions of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, to “put back into effect the Megan’s Law statute provisions to apply to offenders convicted prior to SORNA’s implementation. It also addresses the Supreme Court’s concerns that SORNA is punitive by backing off from some of the more onerous registration provisions.”
An example of lightening the registration provisions is that a convicted defendant required to register for life could petition a judge to be relieved of the requirements after 25 years. Additionally, offenders who are required to register quarterly, who previously had to update their status in person, can now do it by phone.
The effectiveness of registry laws are called into question by many social scientists. A study conducted by the New Jersey Department of Corrections concluded that the sexual offender registry law “showed no demonstrable effect in reducing reoffends” and “has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.”
To read more about House Bill 1952:
Criminal Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultation
House Bill 1952 altered a Supreme Court instituted less restrictive sentence for those charged with sexual offenses before the implementation of SORNA. If you’ve been charged with a sexual offense and would like to talk about how to proceed, call Fairlie & Lippy P.C. at (215) 997-1000.