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Confusion Exists for Those Required to Register with Out of State Convictions

SORNA or Act 10 of 2018 attempts to align those persons convicted of offenses into two groups and includes offenders from another state.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, SORNA Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

The new SORNA passed in the wake of the PA Supreme Court’s decision in Muniz sets offenders into two distinct categories. I refer to them as “SORNA” and “SORNA II.” SORNA tracks closely with the prior law declared to violate ex post facto provisions of both the PA CONST. and the U.S. Constitution. It’s limited only to those offenses committed on or after December 20, 2012 and divides offenders into three “Tiers,” just as before–Tier I (15 years), Tier II (25 years), and Tier III (lifetime).

SORNA II, however, tracks more closely with Megan’s Law II and provides for either a 10 year or lifetime registration period for offenses committed after April 22, 1996 or December 19, 2012. There is a mechanism to “capture” prior registrants as well by requiring that if you were required to register under any prior form of Megan’s Law before April 22, 1996, you must still register. For more about the history of Megan’s Law, see prior Blog Post.

Registration provisions of both SORNA and SORNA II, however, still require that one register who was convicted of a similar crime(s) “under the laws of the United States or… another state…” 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9799.55(b)(2)(ii). What constitutes a similar crime in another state that requires continued registration here in Pennsylvania may be subject to much interpretation.

Here’s the analysis one must go through to determine if you are required to register as an out of state offender

First, what does the specific penal statute from the other state indicate with regard to the crime as to when that crime was committed? Next, how does that compare to the same or similar Pennsylvania criminal statute for the same date? In order to properly undertake the factual analysis, one needs to obtain a certified copies of the following from the other state:

  • Transcript(s) from any preliminary hearing, guilty plea, jury trial, waiver trial, any depositions of witnesses or victims, and sentencing hearing;
  • A certified copy of the criminal information or indictment;
  • A certified copy of the criminal complaint and probable cause affidavit; and
  • A certified copy of any post-arrest bail hearing, if any.

The information about the crime, the statutory comparison, and a conclusion as to applicability should then be sent certified mail to the Pennsylvania State Police, Megan’s Law Section, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110; 1-866-771-3170. If you do not receive a response from PSP, call them and ask if they received your letter. If so, what is the outcome? You may want to continuously check the PSP Megan’s Law Registration website to see if your name has been removed.

I would give PSP a reasonable amount of time–perhaps, 30 to 60 days. They are dealing with a lot of cases. However, if there is no response, you need to think about filing a complaint in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania against the State Police. They have standing now under the current statute to contest these matters. At this point, your matter will be assigned to an assistant Attorney General and will likely get the requisite attention it deserves.

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