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What Types of Charges Can Get You on the Sex Offender Registry, and for How Long?

Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), popularly known as Megan’s Law, has been on the books since 1995. SORNA requires that certain designated adult and juvenile sex offenders register with the Pennsylvania State Police. People on the registry must report periodically to the State Police and provide information about changes in employment or residence.

Registration under SORNA is required for defendants convicted of offenses such as rape, statutory rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault or aggravated indecent sexual assault. Depending on the severity of the sex crime, offenders can be placed on the registry for 10, 15 or 25 years. For certain crimes — such as institutional sexual assault — offenders can be placed on the registry for life. This crime occurs when the offender is a corrections officer, school employee or a childcare worker and the victim is a prison inmate, student at a school or an attendee at a children’s center.

A recent example of a lifetime placement on the sex registry involved former high school teacher Christy L. Smith. She was convicted in 2012 of having sex with two students. She was sentenced to 14 to 28 years in prison. Her appeal of her sentence with the attendant reporting and registration requirements of SORNA was recently denied by a Pennsylvania state appellate court. The court rejected her claims that the requirements were excessive and violated the state and federal constitutions.

Part of an effective criminal defense is to seek a disposition of charges that avoids or lessens the effects of SORNA. Not all sex offenders are placed on the registry. Furthermore, community notification of the presence of a sex offender is required only when the offender has been designated as sexually violent predator. This is defined by statute as person with a “mental abnormality or personality disorder” that gives him or her a propensity to commit violent sex crimes.

If you are facing charges that expose you to possible registration under SORNA — which has implications for your career, your residence and other aspects of your life — you need an experienced and dedicated attorney working on your case. Call Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law at 814-483-7075 or contact me online for a free consultation on your legal issue today. I serve clients throughout Somerset County, Indiana County, Cambria County and Bedford County.