Friday, November 8, 2013

PA - Law requiring lifetime registration for juvenile sex offenders is unconstitutional, York County judge rules

Unconstitutional
Original Article

11/07/2013

By Matt Miller

In a decision that seems destined for the appeals courts, a York County judge has ruled unconstitutional a two-year-old Pennsylvania law that imposes lifetime registration requirements on juvenile sex offenders.

Senior Judge John C. Uhler issued his ruling against the juvenile registration provisions of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act while weighing the cases of seven county teens adjudicated as having committed serious sex crimes.

Uhler found that the registration mandate "unconstitutionally forecloses a court's considerations of the many unique attributes of youth and juvenile offenders" under age 18 and improperly treats them the same as adult sex offenders.

SORNA, as the act is known, also doesn't take into account the greater capacity juvenile offenders have to reform, he noted.

The state law was passed by the Legislature in late 2011 to comply with a federal law, the Adam Walsh Act. The state faced a loss of federal funding if it didn't adopt a measure compatible with the Walsh Act.

Uhler's ruling is in reply to a challenge mounted on behalf of the seven York County youths by the county public defender's office, the Juvenile Law Center and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. The children involved were subject to registration after being found to have committed crimes including rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault. They were ages 14 to 17 when the offenses occurred.

In a statement issued Thursday, officials of the Juvenile Law Center and the defender association called Uhler's decision a "landmark ruling."

"It is our hope that this decision will result in similar findings across the commonwealth," said Riya Saha Shah, a staff attorney with the law center. "To impose this (registration) punishment on children is to set them up for failure."
- The same can be said for adults!

County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said his office is reviewing Uhler's decision for a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court. A decision is expected next week, he said.

"We're thoroughly going through everything," Barker said.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association, predicted an appeal is likely. Prosecutors are well aware of arguments for and against the juvenile sex offender registration requirement, he said.

"I'm not surprised that the judge would rule this way," Freed said. "We'll see what happens in the appeals courts."

"We'll see what happens in the appeals courts." - Cumberland County DA David Freed, president of the Pa. District Attorneys Association

He said it is often difficult to obtain adjudications for juveniles on serious sex crimes because judges know the lifetime registration requirement will apply.

In his decision, Uhler cited studies that juvenile sex offenders are less likely to reoffend than adults who commit sex crimes. SORNA unjustly paints adult and youth offenders with the same brush, he concluded.
- Adult ex-offenders already have a low recidivism rate of 5% or below.

"These provisions were enacted despite a minimal legislative history with regard to how they would impact juvenile offenders, or whether such provisions are necessary with regard to juveniles," the judge wrote.

"The court finds that juvenile sex offenders are different than their adult counterparts...that the rate of recidivism of juvenile sex offenders is low (so is the adult recidivism rate), that they are likely to have their registration status made public and that they are likely to suffer various forms of irreparable harm as a result of being required to register," Uhler found.

In ruling in favor of the seven York County youths, he ordered state police to remove them from the sex offender registry.

Juvenile Law Center and defender association officials said two other similar cases are pending before judges in Lancaster and Monroe counties.

"We agree that all children who act out sexually should be held accountable, but they should also get treatment," said Aaron Marcus, an assistant defender with the defenders association. "All children deserve a chance to grow up and move on with their lives."
- So do adults!


13 comments :

disqus_uoa6Nyfpoq said...

I just called my state's sex offender registry and they said if you were convicted in the state you must continue to register with the state of conviction even if you permanently move out of state. I didn't ask how or why as I didn't want to get into a legal argument with the person I spoke with.

disqus_uoa6Nyfpoq said...

I just talked to a lawyer who represented a guy that that stopped registering in his state of conviction, but was entirely compliant in his state of residence. A warrant was issued for his arrest (failure to register in the state of conviction), he was extradited, spent 30 days waiting to get in front of a judge, was given a fine and then sent back to his state of residence. Unfortunately he did not go to trial, he took a plea bargain so the issue was never truly decided.

I guess it all depends on how much the state wants to screw with you as to whether they want your compliance or not.

Guest said...

Which state is that? And what is the applicable statute? Should not be too difficult to look up.

disqus_uoa6Nyfpoq said...

The state was Wisconsin. The registration statute is 301.45

I'm not sure you're going to get any useful info by looking it up. Like I said, the guy took a plea deal. If you do come up with something, please report back.

From what I've gathered from a few lawyers, you'd basically have to stop registering, get arrested, and go to trial (as well as any appeals that may happen as a result) in order to find out if you have to register or not. I'm not sure my civil rights are worth all that drama, stress, money, and another potential felony conviction...

Sex Offender Issues said...

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/301/45

disqus_uoa6Nyfpoq said...

It doesn't discuss what happens when someone moves out of the state.

It basically comes down to a jurisdictional issue: Does a state have the ability to enforce it's laws on someone that is a non-resident? It's like if you registered a new car in New York then 2 yrs later you moved to New Jersey. You obviously have to register it in NJ, but what if NY said you also had to continue to register it in NY (for the life of the car) regardless of where you live or they'll fine you. Sounds crazy, huh?

bkzalley said...

Yes it does. Read (4m) and (4r) "(4m) Information concerning a move to or schooling or employment in another state. In addition to the requirements under subs. (3) and (4), a person who is covered under sub. (1g) and who is changing his or her residence from this state to another state, is becoming a student in another state or is to be employed or carrying on a vocation in another state shall, no later than 10 days before he or she moves out of this state, begins school or begins employment or his or her vocation, notify the department that he or she is changing his or her residence from this state, is beginning school in another state or is beginning employment or the carrying on of a vocation in another state. The person shall also inform the department of the state to which he or she is moving his or her residence, the state in which he or she will be in school or the state in which he or she will be employed or carrying on a vocation. Upon receiving notification from a person under this subsection, the department shall do all of the following:
(a) Inform the person whether the state to which the person is moving, the state in which the person will be in school or the state in which the person will be employed or carrying on a vocation has sex offender registration requirements to which the person may be subject and, if so, the name of the agency to contact in that state for information concerning those requirements.
(b) Inform the agency responsible for sex offender registration in the state to which the person is moving, in which the person will be in school or in which the person will be employed or carrying on a vocation that the person is moving to the state, beginning school in the state or beginning employment or carrying on a vocation in the state, and provide the agency of the other state with all of the information specified in sub. (2) (a).
(4r) Restriction on certain registrants establishing or changing residence. No person covered under sub. (1g) who is on parole or extended supervision may establish a residence or change his or her residence unless he or she has complied with all of the applicable requirements of subs. (2) (e), (3) (b) and (4) (b)."

bkzalley said...

If you are moving to WA state, here is their law about that...Under RCW 9A44.130, (3)(iii) " (v) OFFENDERS WHO ARE NEW RESIDENTS OR RETURNING WASHINGTON RESIDENTS. Sex offenders and kidnapping offenders who move to Washington state from another state or a foreign country that are not under the jurisdiction of the state department of corrections, the indeterminate sentence review board, or the state department of social and health services at the time of moving to Washington, must register within three business days of establishing residence or reestablishing residence if the person is a former Washington resident. The duty to register under this subsection applies to sex offenders convicted under the laws of another state or a foreign country, federal or military statutes for offenses committed before, on, or after February 28, 1990, or Washington state for offenses committed before, on, or after February 28, 1990, and to kidnapping offenders convicted under the laws of another state or a foreign country, federal or military statutes, or Washington state for offenses committed before, on, or after July 27, 1997. Sex offenders and kidnapping offenders from other states or a foreign country who, when they move to Washington, are under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections, the indeterminate sentence review board, or the department of social and health services must register within three business days of moving to Washington. The agency that has jurisdiction over the offender shall notify the offender of the registration requirements before the offender moves to Washington."

disqus_uoa6Nyfpoq said...

Yup, that's all clear to me, but it does not specifically state that the registrant no longer needs to comply with registration as it does in section (5m) which is the section right after what you quoted.

bkzalley said...

Logic would say, as far as I would be concerned, that if you need to register, to do so in both states to be safe. The state you moved away from will tell you if you are no longer required to register there. But make sure you do in the new state.

disqus_uoa6Nyfpoq said...

I agree, that's the logical thing to do to be on the safe side. But, that also means I should abide by all the other statutes that restrict the actions and movements of registered sex offenders (going back to the original topic). If one sex offender statute applies then all of the sex offender statutes must apply unless they specifically state that they are not applicable to non-residents.

The $100 annual fee they charge is like a spit in the face on top of it.

bkzalley said...

Yes, you will have to make sure you follow every little law and big law change. It is the one thing that every SO has to do. Keep up to date. They want to trip you up, IMO. Stay in contact with the sheriff's office at all times to check. That would be a given where ever you move to. Knowing all of them is going to be a challenge as they keep changing them and adding more restrictions. My son is going to have to do the same.

WillB said...

to begin with, he should've fought extradition. It only required to comply with the laws of the state of your residence or if you are traveling of the laws of the state that you are traveling through