The Pennsylvania Megan’s Law: What You Need to Know About Sex Offender Registry

The Pennsylvania Megan’…

If you are facing sex-related charges, you need to know about the Pennsylvania Megan’s Law. This mandatory sex offender registry can mean those convicted of qualifying offenses are under state supervision for 15 years to life. Find out if you will need to register, and what happens if you don’t.

What is Megan’s Law?

Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry law is named Megan’s Law. The law is named after Megan Kanka, a child victim of a repeat-offender pedophile who raped her, murdered her, and dumped her body in a park near her home. When it was passed in 1995, the Pennsylvania Megan’s Law created a private database of sex offenders only available to law enforcement. However, since 2004, all registered sex offenders have had their names, identities, and addresses available to the public through the state’s Megan’s Law Website.

Megan’s Law has come under fire in recent years. In 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled parts of the law unconstitutional, causing the law to be amended again in 2018 relating to crimes occurring before December 20, 2012. Those older crimes are not addressed in this blog post. There are also several cases pending before the state Supreme Court right now that could change sex offender registry throughout the state.

What Crimes Result in Mandatory Sex Offender Registry

A variety of sex-related charges can result in mandatory sex offender registry upon conviction. These charges are broken up into tiers, which affects how often and for how long you will be required to report to the state police. Here is a list of the classifications of offenses using common names for the crimes. A list of the specific statutes is available on the Megan’s Law Website.

Tier I - 15 Year Registration, Annually

  • Unlawful Restraint
  • False Imprisonment
  • Interference with Child Custody (except by a parent or guardian)
  • Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle or Structure
  • Indecent Assault
  • Corruption of Minors
  • Sexual Abuse of Children
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Video Voyeurism
  • Activities Related to Materials Sexually Exploitative of Minors
  • Child Pornography
  • Misleading Domain Names on the Internet
  • Misleading Words or Digital Images on the Internet
  • Coercion and Enticement
  • Transportation of Minors
  • Filing False Statements about Alien Individuals
  • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation related to any of the above crimes

Tier II - 25 Year Registration, Twice per Year

  • Sex Trafficking
  • Statutory Sexual Assault
  • Institutional Sexual Assault
  • Indecent Assault
  • Prostitution
  • Obscene Sexual Materials and Performances
  • Sexual Abuse of Children
  • Unlawful Contact with Minors
  • Sexual Exploitation of Children
  • Sex Trafficking of Children by Force, Fraud, or Coercion
  • Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward
  • Abusive Sexual Contact of a Minor age 13 - 17
  • Selling or Buying of Children
  • Activities Related to Materials Sexually Exploitative of Minors
  • Production of Sexually Explicit Depictions of a Minor
  • Transportation
  • Coercion and Enticement
  • Transportation of Minors
  • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation related to any of the above crimes

Tier III - Lifetime Registration, Four Times per Year

  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Statutory Sexual Assault
  • Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
  • Sexual Assault
  • Institutional Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Indecent Assault
  • Indecent Assault
  • Incest
  • Aggravated Sexual Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Abusive Sexual Contact of a Minor under age 13
  • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation related to any of the above crimes
  • Two or more convictions of Tier I or Tier II offenses

What is a Sexually Violent Predator?

If you are convicted of a sexual offense (Tiers I, II, or III), you will be required to complete a Sexually Violent Predator Assessment by the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board (SOAB). This assessment is to determine if you have “a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes [you] likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.” In other words, it determines if you are likely to do it again. If you are, the SOAB can recommend you be classified as a Sexually Violent Predator by the judge following a hearing. A Sexually Violent Predator is automatically subject to:

  • Lifetime sex offender registry
  • Lifetime sex offender counseling by an SOAB-approved treatment provider at least once per month.
  • Active community notification, telling your neighbors, county children and youth agencies, schools, and daycares your name, residential address, and offense, and providing them with a picture.

When Does Registration Happen?

Convicted sex offenders must register with the Pennsylvania State Police at least as often as required by their tiers. They must also appear in person to notify the police of:

  • Name change or alias
  • Change of residence (including homelessness)
  • Temporary lodging
  • Change of employment
  • Enrollment or termination in school
  • Addition or change in phone number
  • Buying or selling a motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft
  • Addition or change of email address, instant messaging address or other internet handle
  • Professional licensing
  • International travel (21 days in advance)

What Happens if You Don’t Register?

Three days isn’t a lot of time to notify police of these major life changes. However, if you are a convicted sex offender it is crucial that you make the time. Failure to register as a Tier I offender is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison. Failure to register as a Tier II or III offender is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. If you make a habit of failing to register, second or subsequent convictions could mean even higher penalties later on.

At Berman & Associates, our experienced criminal defense attorneys know how a sex offense conviction can change your life. We will help you understand the charges against you and the penalties and lasting consequences that go with them. Then we will build a defense to fight against a conviction that could threaten your future and your public reputation. We welcome you to contact us to speak with us about how we can help with your criminal case.

Categories: Criminal Law