The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives has unanimously approved House Bill 446, which mandates a three-year supervised period for all sex offenders convicted of serious sex crimes who are released from prison. Under present law, the option of probation is left to judges. However if House Bill 446 passed, this would mean that every convicted sex offender would face three years of mandatory, supervised probation, as well as the standard provisions imposed by Megan’s Law – a law requiring sex offenders to register their home and work addresses with authorities, and requiring those authorities to notify the whereabouts of those convicted sex offenders.

Almost all convicted sex offenders held for the maximum sentence are handed down by Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, rather than paroled early. Since most offenders who have served the maximum sentence imposed by the court are not subject to any supervision by the state parole board or the court other than registering their home and work addresses with police, there were concerns that the public had no way of monitoring the actions of recently-released sex offenders. This bill would change that in Pennsylvania by mandating a similar level of oversight as those paroled early from prison.

What Would This Bill This Mean?

In its current form, the bill would only apply to Tier III sex offenders. These are offenders convicted of rape, sexual abuse of a minor, aggravated sexual assault, and other similar crimes. It could be applied without a grandfather clause, which would mean those already in jail for such sex crimes could face an additional probationary period after serving time.

There are mixed feelings regarding House Bill 446.

On one hand, the bill will provide a mandatory period of probation for the most serious of sex offenders. However, there is uncertainty whether or not this imposed mandatory probation will do anything to curtail recidivism. The increased supervision by state authorities and the court may or may not have correlating effect on repeated offenses.

The additional supervision as would be mandated by the bill will essentially extend a harsher penalty beyond the maximum sentence allowed by current law. These are considerations that will need to be reviewed and deliberated before the bill can be passed in the Senate. The bill’s sponsor Representative Ron Marsico is a Republican from Dauphin County, and has expressed hope for its easy passage.

In the meantime, the general public will have to wait and see if HB 466 will make its way to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk. If the bill does pass, those arrested for sex crimes will face harsher punishments in Philadelphia. For this reason, it is important to have a vigorous defense if you are arrested for a sex offense.

If you are investigated, arrested, charged, and tried for a sex crime in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, don’t delay in contacting a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney today.

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