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"Corruption of Minors" Defined for SORNA

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The new felony crime of corruption of minors passed in 2010 is not the same crime as the misdemeanor corruption for SORNA purposes.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Sexual Crimes Defense Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania just determined on April 11, 2014 that the corruption of minors offense previously defined as a misdemeanor one, is not the same offense as the felony three crime relating to corruption of minors (sexual in nature) that was enacted after December 2010.  Therefore, the former does not require registration under SORNA, passed in December 2011 and effective December 2012.

In Commonwealth v. Sampolski, 89 A.3d 1287, 2014 Pa.Super. 74, 2014 Pa.Super. LEXIS 162 (2014), the Superior Court examined a case where the defendant entered a negotiated guilty plea on June 14, 2010.  There, Sampolski, plead guilty only to corruption of minors (a misdemeanor of the first degree) and other related sexual offenses were dismissed by the Commonwealth.  At the time of his plea, corruption of minors did not require registration under Megan's Law.  However, all the other related offenses did.  Around December 2012, Sampolski received notice that he'd be required to register as a Tier I sex offender under SORNA for 15 years.  He challenged the requirement in the trial court.

The trial court held that the two crimes were not the same.  The court must examine the elements of the offense to determine if they are the same, therefore, warrant registration under SORNA.  The Superior Court agreed with the trial court, which held that "corruption" under the former statute may be satisfied by a single act ("any act") of corruption.  Whereas, the new crime (after December 2010) is a felony three and requires multiple actions amounting to a "course of conduct."  Further, the two crimes have different gradations.  Therefore, they are not similar and do not require registration under SORNA for the former offense (prior to December 2010).

If you entered a plea or were convicted of an offense and told that you did not have to register under Megan's Law or SORNA and have now been instructed to register, you should have an attorney carefully examine your case.  (See prior article on "letter adjudications").  Once you are registered, it may become more difficult to have your name taken from the registry.

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