Retroactivity of SORNA in Pennsylvania Has Been Limited

Filed under: Sex Crimes by Contributor @ July 12, 2012

Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) was amended on July 5, limiting its retroactivity. Before the amendment, SORNA would require sex offenders to register in a database and notify their community of their status if they would be incarcerated or on parole/probation for any crime on December 20, 2012, even if they were convicted of a sex offense years in the past and were incarcerated for a crime that had nothing to do with the sex offense – such as DUI. But as amended, SORNA only requires registration and notification for someone incarcerated or on parole/probation “as a result of a conviction for a sexually violent offense.

The amended SORNA also has implications for juveniles. Juveniles will only have to register and report if on December 20, 2012, they will be “subject to the jurisdiction of the court on the basis of” the SORNA offense. However, the amended SORNA is not entirely to juveniles’ advantage. Under the amended SORNA, juveniles found delinquent of a SORNA offense cannot have their records expunged.

Below are two examples of how the amendment could affect someone:

  • Person A was convicted of Sexual Assault in 2000. He completed his sentence and was clean until 2011, when he received a Simple Assault conviction. He was placed on two years of probation, which will end in 2013. Under the amended SORNA, Person A will not have to register or notify, as his simple assault charge is not a ‘sexually violent offense.’
  • Person B was convicted of Corruption of Minors in 2002. He has completed his sentence, but was recently convicted of Invasion of Privacy (which is a ‘sexually violent offense,’ as outlined by SORNA) and his probation for that will not end until 2013. Because he will be on probation on December 20, 2012 for a ‘sexually violent offense,’ he will be required to register and notify.

If you have been charged with a sex crime, contact an attorney at Fairlie & Lippy for a free case consultation.


  1. Lola says:

    One question, if someone is incarcerated, and has been for 2 years, for 4 DUIs and 1 corruption of minor charge, will he have to register on Megan’s Law? Or is another database? The corruption of a minor considered a misdemeanor.

    Thank you.

  2. Only the felony corruption requires Megan’s Law registration. You should have a lawyer review all the facts of the case to get a formal opinion.

  3. Vince Campo says:

    How is the provision of the statute requiring someone who pleads guilty to a criminal offense that did not come within the expiring “Megan’s Law” but is included under the SORNA pass constitutional muster? Example:Person A pleads guilty to invasion of privacy in August 2012 which did not mandate registration under former law. He is placed on probation and was never advised of impending SORNA registration requirements by his attorney, DA or judge. On December 14 he is advised for the first time by probationer officer of SORNA and all its restrictions and requirements. How is SORNA as it applies to his situation not an ex post facto law and constitutional? Thank you.

  4. The challenge that you referenced and more are being filed as we speak. It remains to be seen what the Courts will do.

  5. Steven says:

    What if person A accepts a plea bargain from Pennsylvania in 2005 for a 10 year registration period and moves after Dec 20, 2012 to Ohio, where the Ohio supreme court has already ruled sorna violates the Ohio Constitution that “no law may be made retroactive”, then Pennsylvania modifies sorna in a similar way? Since there is a federal law that says every state must honor what another state has imposed and the defendant currently living in Pennsylvania must comply with sorna, would person A be stuck with the current conditions of Pennsylvania sorna in Ohio? Would another state have to honor the changes Pennsylvania makes if/when it is also deemed unconstitutional? Thank you.

  6. If the 10 year registration period commenced in 2005, it would extend to 2015 even without any retroactive application. The question contemplates that the crime person A pled to would become at least 15 years under SORNA, if not re-categorized as 25 years or even life. Therefore, only the additional years of registration past 2015 would be in debate under retroactive principles. Most states with registration requirements call for registration in that state pursuant to convictions stemming from another. The relevant law in this question would be that of Ohio, and thus an attorney licensed in Ohio would be in the best position to answer it. However, as a general principle, states may grant constitutional rights broader than those granted by the federal government. On a practical note, assuming person A moved to Ohio, which state would initiate a prosecution for failure to register after 2015? Presumably, not Ohio based on their level of protection, and not Pennsylvania due to lack of jurisdiction.

  7. Brian says:

    What if someone was convicted of sex assault on a child in another state completed probation successfully an moved to pa and a year later convicted of aggravated assault felony and completed 10 years of probation without a slip up by 2010? Currently waiting for tear.

  8. If you completed probation by 2010 then you may not be required to register but you should call us to go over all the details of your case.

  9. Brian says:

    I posted march 8th and was waiting for my tear. I have been givin tear 2 and the date is ten years from jan 1 st 2013 before I come off the list unless they make another law making people stay on for even longere. Any idea of any changes or reversal of the new laws?

  10. John says:

    Will a person that is an adjudicated delinquent for aggravated indecent assault and was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 2 years of probation that
    has been completed be required to register as an offender now that was previously not required?

  11. Probably not, because there was no probation or reporting requirement active on the implementation date, but to get a formal opinion that you can rely on you should schedule a consultation with a lawyer and make sure you present all the facts of your case. Steve

  12. FreeME says:

    How does getting your record cleared of this go about?

  13. It depends on the facts of your case. You should call us to go over that and to determine whether that may or may not be possible. 215 997 1000

  14. KJ says:

    If one had ARD for an offense (dissemination of child pornography) and completed all of the requirements of ARD before all of these new laws took place and has now been charged with a dui, will they have to register? Or since it was an ARD thing, is registration not required at all since the ARD was completed?

  15. I don’t think ARD would trigger the requirements, since it’s not a conviction. Nothing is absolute in this area, but where it says you register if you’re on probation for a sex offense it also includes “and has been convicted of a sexually violent offense.” So they should not be registering people who got ARD.

  16. Mose says:

    If a person was convicted of a sex offense in 1985 and was released in July of 2012 without any supervision whatsoever, is he required to register under sorna?

  17. We would need more information. You should give us a call to discuss this.

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