The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling that would reduce the amount of time certain convicted sex offenders would need to register their status with the police. Although the justices were divided on the subject, the majority ruled in favor of allowing certain sex offenders who were only convicted in a single case to register for a shorter time.

Previously, Pennsylvania law dictated that people who were convicted of multiple charges in one case were required to register with police as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. This meant that a first-time offender could be forced to register for life if they received multiple charges in a single sex crimes case. However, the new ruling would reduce that amount of time for people convicted of more than one count in a single case.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion that described a case against an offender, known simply as A.S., a 21-year-old man who was convicted of possessing child pornography when his 16-year-old girlfriend’s father found sexually explicit photographs she had taken of herself and called the police on A.S. The court found A.S. guilty of 7 counts of pornography in the single case, and he had to register as a sex offender for life.

Some have opined that the change in law could directly affect plea negotiations. A person accused of a sex crime might agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge, rather than waiting for a trial. The Pennsylvania regulations known as Megan’s Law divides sex crimes into 3 tiers, with Tier I leading to a 15-year mandatory registration as a sex offender. Tier II carries a 25-year registration, and Tier III is lifetime registration.

While not every sex crime charge will be subject to the new ruling, sex offenders who are convicted of Tier I crimes such as the following will likely not require lifetime registration, provided they are first time offenders:

  • Kidnapping of minors
  • Child luring
  • Institutional sexual assault
  • Indecent assault
  • Prostitution involving minors
  • Possessing child porn and unlawful contact with a minor

Persons who are convicted of a sex crime in more than one case will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

What the New Ruling Means For Registered Sex Offenders

The new ruling can open the possibility for first time offenders who are currently bound to lifetime registration to possibly have their registration timelines diminished. In A.S.’s case, the state police successfully appealed to a Commonwealth Court to have his registration reduced, which means others will likely follow suit. Getting their lifetime registrations reduced will allow some first-time offenders a chance to rehabilitate themselves without having to be attached to a sex offender list for the rest of their lives.

How a Philadelphia Sex Crimes Lawyer Can Help

Getting convicted as a sex offender can have serious consequences. It will likely haunt every aspect of your life forever. However, the Supreme Court’s new ruling might give you a chance at a fresh start. The first step you should take when determining if the new ruling will affect you is to contact an experienced criminal law attorney. Our criminal lawyers at Fienman Defense, LLC, will help determine what steps you should take. We understand the stigma attached to sex offenders, and we want to help you get a second chance. Call us today at (215) 839-9529.

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