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Megan's Law Sentencing Issues- Lifetime Registrations Revisited

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Enhancements for multiple convictions under former Megan's Law now resolved by Commonwealth Court to a "single criminal episode."

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

I had previously blogged about a potential pitfall for those who plead guilty to multiple offenses that require only a ten (1) year registration period under the former Megan's Law.  (See link to blog post from 2011).   As discussed in that post, when one is convicted of multiple acts that require a ten (10) year registration period, they must then register for life.

Facts of A.S.

In a recent decision, the Commonwealth Court recently determined that the mandamus relief sought by A.S. against the Pennsylvania State Police was appropriate and reduced his registration period from life to ten (10) years.  In A.S. v. P.S.P., 473 M.D. 2012 (December 11, 2013), the defendant, "A.S. admitted that he met the victim online, developed a relationship with her which led to consensual sex, and that he persuaded the victim to take photographs of herself in various sexual positions with her digital camera. He also used the minor's digital camera to photograph the two engaging in sexual relations."

He entered guilty pleas to one count of sexual abuse of children and one count of unlawful contact with a minor.  The guilty plea hearing at the time of the entry of the plea clearly reflected that he was entering the pleas and it was believed that he was receiving a ten (10) year registration period only.  After the expiration of the 10 year period, A.S. sought to have himself removed from the P.S.P. registration site. P.S.P. declined to do so on the grounds that he was a lifetime registrant.  The relevant portion of Megan's Law II provides as follows:

(a) Ten-year registration.-

Except as set forth in subsection (a.1) or (b), the following individuals shall be required to register with [PSP] for a period of ten years:

(1) Individuals convicted of any of the following offenses:

* * *

18 Pa. C.S. §6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children).

18 Pa. C.S. §6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).

(b) Lifetime registration.-

The following individuals shall be subject to lifetime registration:

(1) An individual with two or more convictions of any of the offenses set forth in subsection (a).

Holding of the Court:

The Court found that the plain meaning of the statute meant only to enhance the registration period for those offenders who have committed multiple crimes in more than one criminal episode.  The Court noted that this was one criminal episode and therefore, granted A.S.'s request for mandamus relief and ordered P.S.P. to remove his name as a lifetime registrant.

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