In 1994, the New Jersey General Assembly passed a series of bills requiring information about convicted sex offenders to be disclosed to the general public. Collectively, these bills are commonly known as “Megan’s Law,” named for murder victim Megan Kanka. The bills proposed that information would be shared via a consolidated registry, which is now know as the Sex Offender Registry. While the Registry is utilized nationwide, each state’s differing sex offense laws mean that each state has slightly different registration requirements. In this article, our sex crime lawyers will go over Pennsylvania’s registrable offenses, including duration of registration and some of the potential consequences of violating registration requirements.
There are numerous crimes which can lead to mandatory placement on Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registry, ranging from misdemeanors (like unlawful restraint) to extremely serious felony offenses (such as rape). Because these “registrable offenses” span such a broad spectrum of severity, the duration of registration varies significantly depending on the nature of the underlying conviction.
The state of Pennsylvania divides registrable offenses into three numeric “Tiers”: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III, with Tier III representing the most serious crimes. The registration duration requirements for each Tier are as follows:
Tier I Offenses include the following:
Certain crimes which require registration are not necessarily sexual in nature, but rather involve child endangerment where the child is at risk of sustaining physical injury.
For example, a person can be placed on the Registry for 15 years if they are convicted of Interference with Custody of Children. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904, “A person commits an offense if he knowingly or recklessly takes or entices any child under the age of 18 years from the custody of its parent, guardian or other lawful custodian, when he has no privilege to do so.” This can include the child’s own parent, in cases where he or she is “acting contrary to an order entered by a court of competent jurisdiction” (such as a child custody order issued in a divorce case).
Tier II Offenses include the following:
Certain crimes, such as institutional sexual assault, have the potential to lead to Tier I or Tier II designation. It depends on the unique factors which may or may not have been involved in the individual incident. For example, institutional sexual assault is categorized as a Tier II Offense when the circumstances pertain to 18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2(a.2-a.3), which specifically involve school and childcare settings.
Finally, the following are categorized as Tier III Offenses. Once again, these offenses require lifetime registration:
A person can also be required to register for life if he or she is convicted of two or more Tier II or Tier I offenses.
It is absolutely crucial that all persons to whom these requirements apply register in a timely manner. Pennsylvania imposes very serious penalties for failure to register where required: you could be charged with an additional felony for noncompliance with Megan’s Law provisions. Convicted persons must register at the time of sentencing.
A different set of registration guidelines applies to individuals who were convicted prior to December 20, 2012, which affects matters such as how the registrant may inform the Pennsylvania State Police of address and other changes. The juvenile offender registration requirements which formerly applied in the state of Pennsylvania have since been deemed unconstitutional, and juveniles are generally not required to register unless they are categorized as a Sexually Violent Delinquent Child by the court.
If you or someone you love has been charged with sex crimes in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, it is critically important to seek legal representation from a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling sex offenses. Becoming a registered sex offender can create a host of lasting social, financial, and professional problems for the registrant, while the underlying criminal conviction can lead to long prison sentences and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call attorney Lloyd Long right away at (215) 666-0381. We are available 24 hours a day, and will keep your information private.