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FAILURE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER IN PENNSYLVANIA

SORNA requires each state to establish criminal penalties that include a maximum term of imprisonment that is greater than one year for the failure of a sex offender to comply with their registration requirements.

SORNA states that when a jurisdiction is notified that a sex offender intends to reside, be employed, or attend school in its jurisdiction, and that offender fails to appear for registration as required, that the jurisdiction receiving that notice inform the originating jurisdiction that the sex offender failed to appear for registration.

The law also provides that when a jurisdiction has knowledge that a sex offender may have absconded, that the jurisdiction must take action to look into the absconder’s whereabouts and notify law enforcement agencies.

Failure to Register as a Sexual Offender under 18 Pa. C.S.§4915

Under 18 Pa. C.S.§4915, the failure to comply with the sexual offender registration requirements under 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.13 (relating to applicability) is a crime if the person knowingly fails to:

It would not be a defense if the person was not notified by the Pennsylvania State Police because of the provisions of 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.25 are not an element of an offense under this section.

Conduct Relating to Sex Offenders under 18 Pa. C.S.§3130

Under 18 Pa. C.S.§3130(a), it is a felony of the third degree if the person has reason to believe that a sex offender is not complying with the requirements of the sex offender’s probation or parole, imposed by statute or court order, or with the registration requirements of 42 Pa.C.S. Chapter 97 Subchapter, and the person, with the intent to assist the sex offender in eluding a law enforcement agent or agency that is seeking to find the sex offender to question the sex offender about, or to arrest the sex offender for, noncompliance with the requirements of the sex offender’s probation or parole or the requirements of 42 Pa.C.S. Chapter 97 Subchapter.

Assisting the sex offender in eluding a law enforcement agent would include:

The term “sex offender” means a person who is required to register with the Pennsylvania State Police under the provisions of 42 Pa.C.S. § 9795.1 (relating to registration).


Sex Offender Registration in Pennsylvania

The courts in Pennsylvania have recently started to reexamine the scope of Pennsylvania’s sex offender registration laws. A recent decision in December 2014 struck down sex offender registration for juveniles. Now the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the retroactive application of Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry for adults.

SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) took effect on December 20, 2012, to bring state laws into compliance with federal laws for sex offenders.  SORNA strengthen the registration scheme across the county that allowed most people convicted of sexual crimes had to register for only ten years. In doing so, SORNA dramatically increased the number of people included on the registry, the things that needed to be reported, and the length of time that a person would have to register.

Under the new scheme, more than 75% of the 19,000 people on the registry today must register for the rest of their life without any chance of removal. SORNA also reclassified thousands of people who were ten-year registrants under the old law and under the new rules were required to register for life. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has begun to address those issues.

On April 22, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court accepted review of several cases – Commonwealth v. Reed, Commonwealth v. Gilbert, and Commonwealth v. Muniz. Those claims included a complaint that the new rules cannot be applied retroactively under the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitution.

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the cases also raise procedural due process challenges. The procedural due process issue revolves around the fact that under Pennsylvania law, the person accused had no opportunity to challenge a determination that he or she is not a low risk of reoffending.

A decision is not expected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court until early 2017.


What is Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. SORNA provides a specific set of standards for sex offenders, sex offender registration, and sex offender notification in the United States.

SORNA attempts to discard gaps that existed under prior law. SORNA now tries to strengthen the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs. Additionally, SORNA:


SORNA Review: Pennsylvania

Immediate Transfer of Information

SORNA demands that an offender’s information/updated information be sent to all jurisdictions where the offender has to register, as well as to NCIC/NSOR and the jurisdiction’s public sex offender registry website.


Offenses that Must Be Included in the Registry

SORNA states that specific foreign, military, and federal offenses be included in a jurisdiction’s registration operation. SORNA states that jurisdictions shall capture certain sex offenses, both offenses from its jurisdiction and from other SORNA registration jurisdictions, in its registration operation.

A. Pennsylvania Offenses

Pennsylvania captures the offenses for which SORNA requires registration, with some exceptions. Pennsylvania does not have a specific equivalent state offense for purposes of the SORNA requirements.

B. Juvenile Offenses

Pennsylvania registers juveniles in accordance with SORNA requirements.

C. Federal Offenses

Pennsylvania captures all of the federal offenses for which SORNA requires registration with the exception of Title 18 U.S.C., Section 2245 (Offenses Resulting in Death).

D. Foreign Offenses

Pennsylvania captures the foreign offenses for which SORNA requires registration.

E. Military Offenses

Pennsylvania captures all of the military offenses for which SORNA requires registration.

SORNA states that each jurisdiction keeps a public sex offender registry website. SORNA also states that certain information may not be displayed on a jurisdiction’s public registry website.

SORNA states that each jurisdiction disperses initial and updated registration information to certain agencies within the jurisdiction. SORNA requires that each jurisdiction also disperses initial and updated registration information to the community.


Additional Resources

SORNA Substantial Implementation Review Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Read more about the Office Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Read more about the immediate transfer of information, offenses that must be included in the sex offender registry, tiering of sexual offenses in the state of Pennsylvania, and much more.

Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act – Visit the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures to read more about the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Read about State Legislation, SORNA State activities, and Supreme Court Rules on SORNA.

Megan’s Law Website for Pennsylvania State Police – Visit the website of the Pennsylvania State Police to learn more about Megan’s Law in Pennsylvania. The website was established under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.28 to provide information to the public on registered sexual offenders who reside, or are transient, attend school, or are employed/carry on a vocation, within the Commonwealth.


Attorneys for Sex Crimes in Pennsylvania

The criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Skinner Law Firm represent clients who have been charged with sex crimes and child sexual abuse crimes in West Chester in Chester County and Media in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We also represent clients charged with failing to register as a sex offender.

Contact our offices at (610) 436-1410 to schedule an initial consultation, either in the office or on the phone.


This article was last updated on Friday, September 2, 2016.

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