Pennsylvania residents who are currently registered or are required to register as sex offenders must comply with strict and numerous legal requirements under “Megan’s Law.” If a registered offender breaks any of these rules, there can be extremely severe criminal consequences. It’s critically important for individuals convicted of sex crimes in Pennsylvania to familiarize themselves with these rules and requirements in order to avoid facing additional criminal charges.
In the interest of the public’s safety, most states, including Pennsylvania, have implemented sex offender registries to keep track of convicted sex offenders. Registration is not a one-time deal. Convicted offenders must continue to register and update information with local authorities for years or even for life. Failure to register according to the state’s rules may result in severe criminal penalties.
If you were convicted of a sexual offense, you might be required to register with Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry. If you fail to adhere to registration requirements, you might be in serious trouble. Talk to our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense attorneys for help. We can discuss your case in a free legal review at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. Call us at (215) 302-0171 to arrange a meeting.
What Happens When a Sex Offender Fails to Register in Pennsylvania
The precise penalties and punishments for failing to register as a sex offender will vary from person to person. The sex offender registry is broken down into varying levels called Tiers, with more serious Tiers having stricter registration rules. The nature of your offense determines your Tier and the grade of your charges for failing to register.
Failing to register may be a deliberate act or a result of a bad memory. Whether you are hiding from law enforcement or you simply forgot to go to your local police department and register, you may be punished harshly. Failure to comply with registration requirements may lead to serious felony charges and possible prison time in addition to steep fines. While all registrants must check in with the police at regular intervals, they must also check-in if they change jobs or move to a new neighborhood. Forgetfulness is rarely an acceptable excuse.
There may be additional penalties or upgraded penalties for certain offenders based on their situation. For example, transient offenders who have no established residency must report once every month no matter what Tier they fall under or how severe their offense was. This is because transient sex offenders are prone to frequently moving, sometimes by choice, other times by need. If you have been charged for failing to meet your registration requirements, call our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense lawyers immediately.
Crimes Requiring Sex Offender Registration in Pennsylvania
As we have written about in the past, there are many offenses requiring sex offender registration in the state of Pennsylvania, with the duration of registration dependent upon which “Tier” categorizes the underlying offense.
The offense’s classification under Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III also impacts the individual’s “reporting requirements,” or how frequently the individual must go to a Verification or Registration Site to update their registered information. The greater your assigned Tier, the more often you have to report and check in with the police.
According to the Pennsylvania State Police, Tier I offenders are typically required to register for 15 years and must report once per year. Tier II offenders must register as sex offenders for 25 years and are required to report twice per year. Finally, Tier III offenders must register for the rest of their lives and report quarterly or four times per year.
Numerous crimes may qualify for registration as a sex offender. While there are far too many eligible offenses to list here, you can generally assume that more serious offenses will land offenders on higher Tiers. Crimes of sexual violence are some of the most serious and are likely to result in lifetime registration. If you are unsure whether your charges require you to register as a sex offender, talk to our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense attorneys. We can figure out your reporting requirements, if any, and help you understand how to comply.
Sex Offender Registration Requirements in Pennsylvania
Regardless of which Tier the offense falls under, all convicted offenders in Pennsylvania must report the same specific information when they check in with law enforcement. The more often you must report, the more often this information is updated. If a person knowingly provides false information, they can be criminally charged, as discussed below.
According to 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.16, sex offender registrants must report their date of birth and name in addition to any aliases they may have used or are using. This may also include usernames the registrant uses online. They must also report their current telephone number and a physical address. If a registrant lives at multiple addresses, each address must be reported. If the registrant is transient, they must report any temporary locations in which they stay. This includes places like homeless shelters, the homes of friends, or even public parks. Registrants must also report employment status, whom they work for, where they work, and any information regarding a professional license. If the registrant is a student, the name and address of their school must be reported. A reporting offender must also provide information about any car they own or regularly drive. Finally, a registrant must provide a signed form stating they are fully aware of their reporting obligations. Learn more about if sex offenders have to notify employers in Pennsylvania.
As the previous section makes plain, the list of rules and requirements for registered offenders is fairly lengthy and demanding. Nonetheless, it is crucial for registered individuals to adhere to all registration rules supplied by Megan’s Law — because if they do not, the result can be an additional set of felony criminal charges. If you fear you might have failed to comply with registration requirements, call our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense lawyers for help immediately. We can help you rectify the situation, hopefully before criminal penalties are assessed.
Penalties for Violating Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration Requirements
The grading of offenses for violating Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry requirements can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4915.1. Under the law, a person required to register for 15 years may be charged with a third-degree felony for failing to comply with registration requirements. If the defendant has previous convictions for failure to comply with registration requirements, they may instead be charged with a more serious second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies charges are also assessed when a person provides false information when registering, such as a fake address.
For offenders required to register for 25 years or life, charges for second-degree felonies may be assessed for failing to register. If such a defendant has previous convictions for failure to register or tries to register with false or misleading information, charges for first-degree penalties may be assessed.
To sum up, failure to observe Tier I registration requirements provided by Megan’s Law is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000. Tier II and Tier III violations are classified as second-degree felonies, subject to a $25,000 maximum fine and up to a decade in prison. Aggravating circumstances like previous convictions for failure to register or comply with registration requirements may lead to upgraded charges and penalties.
The penalties for deliberately supplying false information to law enforcement are even more severe. Providing false information pertaining to a Tier I offense is a second-degree felony, while Tier II and Tier III informational violations can lead to first-degree felony charges — the most serious criminal charge short of first or second-degree murder. While the maximum $25,000 fine does not increase from the second-degree felony fine, first-degree felonies are subject to twice the maximum prison term: up to 20 years in prison.
Registrants should be advised that the Pennsylvania State Police actively encourage the public to report any suspected violations — including information about any person trying to help a convicted offender physically hide or withhold information from law enforcement. Speak to our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense lawyers about handling your case as soon as possible.
Call Our Pennsylvania Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys
If you’ve been arrested for sex offenses in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. The Law Offices of Lloyd Long handle allegations of rape, child pornography crimes, and other sex offenses. To arrange for a free, private case review, call us right away at (215) 302-0171.