Pennsylvania residents may remember when changes were made to Megan’s Law regarding sex offenders back in 2012. Although it may not have been apparent immediately, previously convicted sex offenders and individuals who had been charged with minor sex crimes soon came to realize that they were being negatively affected by changes made to the legislation. Essentially, many Pennsylvania lawmakers, residents and others view the new laws as unconstitutional and unfair.
For those who are unfamiliar with the new laws, the changes made were in regard to the number of years for registration. Before, a convicted individual would be subject to a 10-year period of registering as a sex offender or would have to register annually for the rest of his or her life. The new law splits registration into three tiers with tier 1 being 15 years, tier 2 being 25 years and tier 3 being lifetime. The tier is determined by a number of factors, including the offense or offenses of which an individual has been convicted.
Unfortunately, individuals who were convicted of sex crimes prior to the 2012 changes to Megan’s Law or who entered into a plea bargain for a lesser charge in order to avoid sex offender registration are at risk of now having to register. Essentially, individuals who have already paid for their sex crimes are expected to face extended registration or criminal prosecution. The plea bargains that were made previously are not being honored by courts, and individuals are now being forced to register as a sex offender under the new law.
There are hundreds of people in Pennsylvania who are fighting against these new changes, as the new sex crimes law is viewed as unfair to those who have already served their sentences or probation periods. Having to register as a sex offender brings forward a number of life-altering consequences, such as difficulty finding employment, relationship troubles, diminished reputation and much more. Therefore, Pennsylvania residents who find themselves in this predicament would do well to become familiar with their constitutional rights and equip themselves with strong criminal defenses to fight against unjust rulings and be awarded the benefits of the previously made bargains.
Source: pccd.pa.gov, “Pennsylvania’s New Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law“, Accessed on Feb. 20, 2015