On December 20, 2012, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) became effective and repealed and replaced all prior versions of Megan’s Law.
On July 19, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided in Commonwealth v. Muniz, that the new SORNA requirements are punitive (punishment) and cannot be applied to a defendant retroactively. Essentially, as a matter of fairness, SORNA cannot be applied to those who committed sex offenses before SORNA became law. Any person whose offense occurred before the enactment of SORNA in December 2012 would not be required to register as a sexual offender and those placed on the registry for offenses committed before that date would be subject to removal.
For more on the this ruling click here.
In February, the PA Legislature amended the unconstitutional portions of SORNA in “Act 10.” The new legislation provides a mechanism for possible removal from the registry for a lifetime registrant after a term of 25 years and offenders in compliance with SORNA’s in-person reporting requirements for three years can appear in-person once a year and complete the rest of their reporting requirements electronically.
Since Governor Wolfe signed Act 10 into law, some Pennsylvania courts have ruled that the amended SORNA is still unconstitutional when applied to some registrants: