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Megan's Law III Declared Unconstitutional by PA Supreme Court

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In a majority opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declared Megan's Law III unconstitutional.

By Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Megan's Law/SORNA Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

In a case argued by my firm, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held that Megan's Law III is unconstitutional.  Commonwealth v. Neiman, 74 MAP 2011 (Decided December 16, 2013); Commonwealth v. Neiman, 84 A.3d 603, 2013 Pa. LEXIS 3018, 2013 WL 6598735 (Pa. 2013) .  The Court determined that the law, as well as other legislative pronouncements, contained within Act 152 were passed in violation of Article I, Section 3, known as the "single subject rule."

What Does this Mean?

Megan's Law III (Act 152) was enacted on November 24, 2004 and was repealed by the newly enacted Adam Walsh Act that went into effect on December 20, 2012.  Megan's Law III contained a new definition for "predatory" from Megan's Law II (previously declared unconstitutional).  New sentencing hearings may need to be held to address this change.

It also contained many registration requirements as well as the crime of "failure to comply with registration of sexual offender requirements."  18 Pa.C.S. Section 4915.  That crime itself, which is now a nullity, is the basis for many convictions and mandatory sentences across the Commonwealth.  Likewise, the conviction for such an offense may have been the basis for substantial revocation time on a state parole back hit.  It's no longer a crime and those computations by the PA Board of Probation and Parole will need to reassessed.

What Should I do if I'm Affected by the Decision?

If you are presently incarcerated and/or serving time for "failing to register" between 2004 and 2012, you may wish to contact a county public defender's office in your locale.  You have certain rights under the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA") to seek relief within 60 days of a constitutional change.  This case represents such a change where the predicate statute for your conviction(s) was declared unconstitutional.  Likewise, if you were sentenced as a sexually violent predator under Megan's Law III, you may have relief available.  Again, your right to relief is limited to 60 days.

If you have questions or concerns regarding Megan's Law, Adam Walsh, or SORNA, you may contact the firm of Shaffer & Engle toll free or email us today.

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