Penn. Supreme Court nixes lifetime registration for some

By Matt Miller . . . A ruling issued by a sharply-divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court could greatly alter the registration requirements imposed on some types of convicted sex offenders.

The decision by the court’s majority states that offenders who commit some kinds of sex crimes, such as possessing child pornography, cannot be made to register with state police for life unless they commit at least one more sex crime after their initial convictions. In other words, they have to become recidivists to qualify for the lifetime registration.

State police have been requiring such first-time offenders to register for life if they have multiple sex crime convictions stemming from just one criminal incident.

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said Tuesday that the high court’s decision likely will have an impact on plea negotiations in certain sex-crime cases. The difference in registration requirements – some offenses carry registration terms as low as 15 years – can prompt a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser sex crime to avoid the lifetime registration.

“The biggest impact will be with plea negotiations,” Marsico said. “These registration requirements are often at issue.”

The dispute before the Supreme Court hinged on the interpretation of the wording of a state law that requires lifetime registration for some sex offenders who receive “two or more convictions.”

A Supreme Court majority consisting of Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor and Justices Kevin M. Dougherty, Max Baer and Christine Donohue concluded the wording means sex offenders in some cases must be convicted of such crimes for two separate incidents to trigger the lifetime registration mandate.

Justices Debra McClosky Todd and David N. Wecht dissented.

The majority decision means sex offenders convicted of “Tier 1” crimes including kidnapping of minors, child luring, institutional sexual assault, indecent assault, prostitution involving minors, possessing child porn and unlawful contact with a minor won’t be required to register for life on their first offense, no matter how many charges their first convictions entail. They will still have to register with police for 15 years.

The Supreme Court majority opinion written by Dougherty dealt with the case of a 21-year-old Montgomery County man who was convicted of persuading his 16-year-old girlfriend to take and send sexually explicit photos of herself. He was arrested in 2000 when her father found the pics. After pleading guilty to seven child porn counts, he was sentenced to 5 to 23 months in county prison, plus 5 years of probation. (Read full article at

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12 Thoughts to “Penn. Supreme Court nixes lifetime registration for some”

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  1. There you go plea deals and I would say 60 percent of the people caught up in the sex offender registry got plea deals. A plea deal is no more than a catch 22 situation or one could say plea bargain if that’s the case.

    In other words any man in authority doesn’t want to be wrong and police and Government have a lot to lose when they are wrong. Its called respect and look at the nation today even the election there is no respect for others its like dog eat dog but the truth will finely come out.

    That’s why its so important for you all and RSOL and all the other advocates to stand up for this…….. Any minister of justice would not use deception and lying in any means or form.

  2. tim

    Living in the united states of slavery is no joke. Let’s get this straight, you can burn, starve, drown, physically torture, and kill someone and never need to register. But if you touch someone or have sexual pictures you do for life. Give up sex crimes, take up a new line of work, lol.

    1. Emil S

      Hello, is there a country where one can immigrate to?
      I was convicted of low level sex offense but they required me to register none the less and my life has been severely affected. I don’t have any other record and have not had any since. I have a college degree and had a good career before. Now I cannot even find a job at times. So much restrictions when it comes to finding a place to live and the prospect of having my own family seems so grim. I don’t haven any such interests in minors; it was a dark point in my life where I just gave up after being like depressed and I happen to respond to this “underaged girl” who messaged me.
      Now I want to rebuild my life, but I feel like this huuuge burden over me and my best efforts have turned short. I want to do good; I volunteer in my free time, and wish good onto others. But when people find out the I am in the sex offender registry they see me with the corrupted filter and consequently bring me down. It is so difficult to function straight with so much restrictions and burden. How can this be happening in the land of the free, home of the brave? People are swayed by fear and paranoia to the point that they are willing to lynch others on suspicion and made up tale.

      1. d

        I know…what’s so scary and frustrating is knowing that local, state, federal laws could change and make a bad situation intolerable. I was set up in a sting and some days i find myself seething with rage against the system that tricked me into destroying my life. My health is suffering. Every cell in my body aches. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of moments i’ve felt free and happy since this nightmare began 3 years ago. And i know most of you out there have it just as bad- most likely even worse. Most SO”s are so beaten down they don’t have the will or energy to stand up for themselves. If even 10% of the 850,000 stood up and got active i KNOW we would get some real results. I’m so grateful for RSOL and everyone who fights for us.

        Trying to stay positive. Best revenge is to live well- so i’ve been told. Still, time keeps passing and i’m sick of feeling like my life has been wasted. Maybe there’s a way to “live well” in this little box i’ve been put in, i don’t know. Angry at how misrepresented SO’s are as a group. Tired of feeling like a 5th rate citizen. Sort of want to stay just to fight but feel like an ant taking on an elephant. Uruguay?

      2. Deb

        Live well. Eat well. Do workout. This country is still far better than any other country for everything else in life.

        Studies show 20 percent of population is sexually abused when they were children. Now consider 2 victims per abuser. That means 15 million americans are child molesters. That means if you see 10 people in front of you, one of them is likely to be a child molester.

        Whatever happened, you just got caught into a retributive justice system. The nation is trying to create a deterrence through the registry. You are still one of those 15 million people. You just happened to be one of those few who got caught.

  3. tim

    Heres the difference between what a real U.S. Supreme Ct. and our current U.S. Supreme Ct. Would have said about the illegal and unconstitutional SORA’s.

    The U.S.Supreme Ct. In Hensley v. Municipal Court, 411 u.S 345 at 51, 93 S.Ct. at 1575, defined the following to mean custody of a person, ‘First, he is subject to restraints ‘not shared by the public generally, “that is, the obligation to appear, at all times and places as ordered by any court or magistrate of competent jurisdiction. ” He cannot come and go as he pleases, his freedom of movement rests in the hands of state judicial officers who may demand his presence at any time within a moments notice, disobedience is itself a criminal offense”. SORA’s demand every day, every 10 day, every 90 day and yearly registration, a person under the custody of a sora cannot come and go freely, cannot obtain a residence, employment, attend schools, have a license, own or use vehicles, have a phone number without having to tell a court. The cannot leave state without first notifying a court they are leaving, and must also report the move to state they are moving to or go to prison.these are called restraints of liberty, suspicion less searches, requiring oral, verbal, and handwritten admissions and testimonial evidence to self incriminate that person, and is identical to all other state sanctioned continuums of punishment.

    The current excuse for a U.S. Supreme Ct. and specifically justice kennedy claimed, “the act does not subject respondents to an affirmative disability or restraint, and so does not resemble imprisonment. This does not include all of the thousands of state laws resulting in restraints related to housing, employment, parks, schools, etc. Now which court do you believe knows the law and which one is a fraud?

    A SORA applies a state continuum of punishment, a person is in custody, you must appear at particular places and times, through direct consequences and direct burdens, are subject to suspicionless searches and seizures, it imposes physical restraints, it permits substitutes for police officers through mailed verification forms, and these are warrantless entries. And you must comply or go to prison. You must provide all of the labor and services to the state, pay for all costs of registering and providing all of the labor, services, and information related to your image. There is a definition for this provided by federal law.

    Chapter 77, 18 U.S.C. 1589, FORCED LABOR. It states, whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person by any one of, or by any combination of, the following means, 1. By means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person, 2. By means of serious harm or threats of harm to that person or another person, 3. By means of abuse of law or legal process, and 4. By means of any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services that person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint.

    All of this is done when any person in this country can access every bit of the information simply by typing your name into a computer, phone or other internet device. And the government is already using state and federal agencies to know the same information through tax, employment, social security, and social services, and health agencies.

    I don’t know what you know about the law, but I know enough to see that a SORA is nothing more than forced labor and slavery.

    They say justice is blind, well in this case its true.

  4. You know I have been involved in all this sex registry for 4 yrs. Took a plea deal as I wasn’t prepared to go to court at the time as most are in these fictitious ordeals. Sure police do these operations. Its a numbers game and a go fish expedition.

    Articles like the supreme court of Penn issue only try to make all these sex sting operations look good to the public eye when they know the real truth is shadowed in these sting operations that are conducted by the small police force.

    If we never had internet none of these sex sting operations would happen via the internet. Is all this informal interaction or man to man interaction. Do people kill people with their words or do authorities break one down with their words to get one wrapped up in all this.

    People those authorities should be promoting good and honesty and not some fictitious scenario such as this. Look at all the people on here crying out for justice. All this boils down to just a mind game

    Tim talks about porno, I was reading and looking at porno in the 70”s and who promotes porno, the government as they make a lot of money from that industry. Look at movies. Look at bikini’s and how women let it all hang out.

    And here they will use little fictitious innocent children to con on into some sort of opportunity to catch one in this sexual game of blind man’s bluff.

    I guess the bible doesn’t teach authorities anything much less man but I think I would rather agree to the bible instead of man’s bible. Yes we all learn a lot and those in high places try to cover up their mistakes they do on mankind.

    Tim mentioned slavery. I wonder who induced slavery or are we still living in the civil war era of today?

  5. tim

    If there was such a thing as honor and dignity, justice Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Ct. deserves none. I am not certain why he made such a ridiculous ruling in Smith v. Doe, but even the state of Alaska overruled it. Perhaps he has encountered some form of sexual abuse during his lifetime, as has just about 100% of Americans have.

    But it is clear to any reasonable person that a Sora as applied is illegal in every respect. Even NYS law rulings have determined a Sora to be illegal. In Fuentes v. Bd. Of Education. Nys Ct. Of appeals 2009, the high Ct ruled that where a person is under the control of a person who does not possess a custody order they cannot make education choices for their own children. The Nys Sora has no language of custody within it as applied, since if it did it would be considered custody and unconstitutional.

    Now I understand most of America is devoid of the understanding of law, but your so called government officials are legal professionals. They also know an American citizen has no lawful duty of any kind to provide labor, services, and their image to them.

    I bet if you told any judge to tell you where you live. Work, go to school, vehicles they own, etc., they would tell you it violates every tenet of jurisprudence except when being punished.

    So all of this nonsense about rulings and so called due process is a farce of law. They can fool some ignorant people, but not all. What is so disconcerting is that even rsol cannot help in any substantive way, even when the law is simply trash.

  6. So that’s were everybody has been hiding posting on the Colorado Registry Status. I’m just waiting for everybody to step up to the plate on this registry issue and these sex sting operations.
    I’m just waiting for you all to lead the charge. There is too much complaining on here but of course comparing notes isn’t bad. Have you all read your history lately.
    Now without speak about the bible let me do this and maybe that will give you a clue.

    Are you ready for this… Hold on to your hats…

    James Madison said this:…. We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind of self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.

    Now this is from one of the many articles I wrote and it never hurts to research history. See police are just like us they are no better but ask yourself this, all stings that I know of from the past were done in public if you have to hide yourself to have someone come down and beguile one than that’s deception with a capital D.

  7. Ron

    You can convey all the rhetoric and disparities that comes to mind, but the actionable faith in solidarity would be the only way to bolster the necessity for change. Each grieveance, favorable report, or unbiased analysis, becomes a brave foot soldier in the fight to honest and balanced justice. Each time a registered citizens challenges a precedent or unique dysfunction of the law whether local, state or federally then the baby battles become slights to victories. On the flip side of the coin, your caring congresspersons and lovely legislators tend to be preemptive in the attempt to repair the ruins with a belated band-aid so as to correlate damage control. Pennsylvania and Colorado are indicative of how this cloaked miscarriage of justice can bring about change.
    Similarly paramount to the aforementioned is the crucial legal challenge of International Megan’s Law with its overreaching salutations and reasonings so strangely justified. This fight or selective battle is of ultra-essence to the basic or foundational freedoms of registered citizens. In no gesture or sensible remedy is this law either fair or merely constitutional. This in effect steals the human basic rights from say for instance; registered citizens spouses and children and subsequently restricts their movement as well. This is the front line and the meat and potatoes of the war for ROSL and its associates all be damned. Have not fear but fortitude to face your detractors. Keep your weapons of words at the wayside for eventual or likely use against those who threaten what is an undeniable right and exercise of individual liberty. The progressive nature of SO laws are out of step with the true cycle of accountability, reintegration and redemption within our society and free world. The insistence of lawmakers and judges ignoring the instruments available at hand or the non-use of jurisprudent authority is widespread and popular in all political arenas using false contentions as bonafide data daily and hourly with no affirmative gain but monetized fronts. This is perhaps the saddest time period for criminal justice reform.

  8. PEte

    I just was release from prison after a 10 year sentence on an adult charge (plea bargain). I am in TN. I do no have any parole or probation, yet the restrictions here are crazy. I am well educated, but the prospects with the restrictions are daunting. Can anyone provide any areas or states that I can research to move to?

  9. Josef K.

    From the above article,
    “Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said that the high court’s decision likely will have an impact on plea negotiations… The difference in registration requirements – some offenses carry registration terms as low as 15 years – can prompt a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser sex crime to avoid the lifetime registration.

    “The biggest impact will be with plea negotiations,” Marsico said. “These registration requirements are often at issue.”

    That’s why I took a plea deal in ’98, then they changed the terms. I plead to 10 years registration and now it’s lifetime.

    They’ll do it again.