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Pennsylvania Legislature attempts to “fix” unconstitutional law

By Paula Reed Ward . . . A bill introduced this week in Harrisburg attempts to fix flaws in the state’s sex-offender registration system identified in a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in July and could affect more than 10,000 registrants.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, called it “imperative” to amend the law.

“We have worked hard to come up with a fix that will do just that and are expediting this fix,” Mr. Marsico said.

On Tuesday, the legislation cleared the House Judiciary Committee, of which Mr. Marsico is chairman, and could go to the floor for a vote by the full House as soon as next week.

Karen Dalton, a committee attorney who helped draft the legislation, said that without action, more than 10,000 sex offenders sentenced before the state’s registration law took effect Dec. 20, 2012, would have to come off the registry.

That would mean victims of those who have been deemed sexually violent predators would no longer get notice of changes in their circumstance, such as where they live or work or what type of car they drive.

The case that spurred the need for legislation involved Jose Muniz, who was found guilty in Cumberland County in 2007 of indecent assault. Under what was then Megan’s Law, he would have had to register as a sex offender for 10 years. But Muniz failed to appear at his sentencing. When he was apprehended in 2014, Megan’s Law had been replaced by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which called for a lifetime registration.

Muniz challenged the registration as unconstitutional because he said it increased punishment after the fact.

The state Supreme Court agreed, finding that SORNA’s registration requirements were punitive. But the decision provided no guidance, causing upheaval in the criminal justice system, as neither prosecutors nor the Pennsylvania State Police, which administers the registration program, knew how to address the court’s concerns.

Ms. Dalton said the legislation puts back into effect the Megan’s Law statute provisions to apply to offenders convicted prior to SORNA’s implementation. It also addresses the Supreme Court’s concerns that SORNA is punitive by backing off from some of the more onerous registration provisions.

For example, a person required to register for life, as well as those labeled Sexually Violent Predators, could petition to be relieved of the requirements after 25 years.

“It’s going to be completely up to the judge’s discretion,” Ms. Dalton said.

In addition, offenders required to register quarterly, who previously had to appear to update their status in person, she said, could do it by phone if they have met all their requirements.

Ms. Dalton said the changes are meant to comply with Muniz, as well as a recent Superior Court decision out of Butler County that found that the state’s process for declaring an offender a Sexually Violent Predator was unconstitutional because of Muniz.

The legislation, she said, is a bipartisan effort and had input from the governor’s office, state police, the Board of Pardons, the Sex Offender Assessment Board, the Office of Victim Advocate and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

“We think it’s important for public safety to know who’s a convicted sex offender and where they’re residing,” said Richard Long, executive director of the DAs’ association.

But Aaron Marcus, an assistant public defender in Philadelphia, said the new bill, as well as all sex-offender registration laws, “create a false sense of security and a false sense of fear.”

“The Legislature is being reactive and has not once looked to see if this law does what they want, which is keep people safe.”

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This topic contains 28 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  R 4 days, 12 hours ago.

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  • #28763 Reply

    Mark

    So it has begun, but how? The only thing I can find is House Bill 1952 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/billinfo.cfm?syear=2017&sind=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1952 but where does that fix Muniz? This was a topic of our latest session with our therapist yesterday. He is opposed to the whole situation as he believes that it makes things worse for the public and not a safety issue at all. Got to head off to work.

    • #29756 Reply

      who removes from list

      If anyone is from Pennsylvania, and have been charged or convicted and are incarcerated with or for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender under SORNA.

      My husband has had his case dismissed due to MUNIZ, the DA has dropped both the charges of failure to register accurate information and failure to register updates to his internet identifiers.

      My husband’s attorney filed for Motion to Dismiss his charges per Muniz and the DA dropped the charges after using a delay tactic called 30 days to file a brief which they never filed it because Muniz applied to my husband.

      He was convicted in 2006 for his crime that placed him under Megan’s Law 3, he is PRE SORNA.

      There is no stay and they cant prosecute for failure to register as sex offender under SORNA, per Muniz and only if Muniz Decision applies to the defendant.

      Commonwealth Shawn Christopher Williams, had his cased overturned by the Superior Court for Failure to Register as a sex offender under SORNA. Muniz applied to him and he was released from prison on Oct 20, 2017 one day after his charges where dismissed.

      Look up Shawn Christopher Williams, who is not my husband, but this case was used to help push the dismissal of my husband charges.

      If anyone in jail and anyone needs an attorney or motions written for a low cost please reply to this message and I will direct you to contact the attorney who will fight for you.

      • #29812 Reply

        Bernie S

        ATTN: Who Removed……..

        The attorney information would be great, please provide.

      • #29821 Reply

        R

        Hi anonymous I have a couple questions, without intruding too much. You said charges were dropped due to muniz. My question is 1, if he was charged for those offenses. Then I’m guessing he must have still been on the registry, did he or his he if so going to be removed from the list ?. My 2,ND question is what was his tier status please, thank you.

  • #28794 Reply

    Maestro

    “That would mean victims of those who have been deemed sexually violent predators would no longer get notice of changes in their circumstance, such as where they live or work or what type of car they drive”

    That would mean “victims” would never be able to put this sh*t behind them. Even the “victims” of consensual relationships.
    Also, this is the same excuse that ALL states use as a means to say we NEED a registry. Yet NOT ALL states require lifetime registration, so, therefore it’s a load of horsesh*t because EVENTUALLY we come OFF the registries. Then what? What does the “victim” have to say then? Nothing. Because then it goes from “keeping the victims aware” to “oh well, they (the offenders) have fulfilled their obligation, now they’re free to live their lives”
    This makes 0 sense to a level headed person.

    “We think it’s important for public safety to know who’s a convicted sex offender and where they’re residing,”

    Yeah, they THINK. But they’re not entirely SURE. But they don’t care where the gang members, drug pushers or armed robbers live. Interesting.

    Welcome to the USA; Land of the fear mongering, home of the unforgiving.

    • #29185 Reply

      Candice

      My thoughts exactly! I had some of the article copied in preparation to write a response, But you did it for me. When a victim gets updates on the offender it brings back memories they otherwise may have gotten over. This just keeps the memories fresh and stirs up anger and hate.

      I wonder if anyone has tried to pass a law where the victim can suggest the offender no longer has to register or be put on a ‘public’ registry? When the victim is a family member the registry does not allow the family to heal and move on. When the victim marries the offender after the fact (teenage sweethearts), they both will have a hard time moving on also.

      If there was ever a ‘real’ reason to have a ‘public’ registry, it should be for those who’s offense was on a non-family member (not to include victims who marry the offender after the fact) AND who has prior sexual offenses. First time offenders should not have to be on a public registry.

    • #29735 Reply

      JoeHillsGhost

      Politicians think?

  • #28815 Reply

    Saddles

    I tell you what lets bring back “stoning” that way everybody in the nation gets a piece of the pie. From a simple stealing a kiss to a sexual harassment suit or a simple touching or petting inappropriately. That would be a quick fix for everybody. Women can say anything but the proof is in the pudding.
    Now from this article is that Pennsylvania wants to fix flaw’s…………I guess they would want to fix law’s in the Ten commandments also as it seems the USA doesn’t have any love in any of this sex offender stuff, weather its having a potty mouth, setting someone up on the internet or some mom complaining that her daughter was raped by some guy or a little touching incident. How cold are these law’s when those that self-righteous peopleseem to have the wisdom of Solomon don’t even have a clue.
    The courts are almost like matching for nickels. Heads I win, tails you lose but if we lose we are gonna fix the flaw so we win. See its all about government. Seems they couldn’t care one thing about God’s commandments and law’s. I guess that’s what people get for not standing up to all this.
    I still wish someone would investigate those little e-mails that one gets from these little tramps that want to set you up and trap one in a lot of this… I would bet you a dime a dollar that it is the government trying to pull one over like they always do in these sex issues.

  • #28832 Reply

    Chris

    I didn’t read the whole bill, but from what I did read it’s the same old, same old. This is a typical response by states when one of their statutes is deemed unconstitutional. Re-write the law and say, “oh look, we fixed it.” Courts will rule existing lawsuits to be “moot” because of the modifications and dismiss them, or in the case of PA v. Muniz, the state can simply withdraw their petition for certiorari. Then the process has to start all over again with people filing lawsuits and the courts bind it up for a year or two while thousands of peoples’ rights are being trampled on. Meanwhile incumbents get re-elected based on their “tough on sex offenders” record and their love of “saving the children.” (While they sometimes have victims along the wayside of their own past.)

    This is exactly why I would rather the US Supreme Court had taken up the whole issue of the registry in Snyder. I know that the denial of cert was a “victory”, but if they had heard the case and upheld the court below’s ruling, this cycle of rewriting laws would become useless. I’m holding out hope that more and more district and circuit court judges have the balls to stand up for what’s right, and eventually push the whole issue of the constitutionality of registries back to SCOTUS. And the sooner the better.

  • #28837 Reply

    Registry Rage

    The registry does not protect and safeguard children. It’s primary purpose is to incite fear into the community and provide JOB SECURITY via security theater for the local police and U.S Marshals. It’s no different than privatizing fear for profit at the expense of the taxpayer. There is absolutely no tactical advantage in “knowing” where someone lives. NONE.

    Megan’s law? Adam Walsh Act? They’re nothing but a collective hate and fear campaign. They do not deal in absolutes, only “what ifs” (intangibles) where speculation trumps science and facts – where logic and reason caves to FEAR and EMOTION.

  • #28871 Reply

    R

    Ex post facto ex post facto, they should not be allowed to write anything to overturn that ruling.

  • #28870 Reply

    R

    Changes meant to comply with “muniz”, hmmmm! Left out the part of the fact that it was based and won on the ex post facto clause. Not only is ex post a violation, I also believe it falls under the double jeopardy rule.i don’t see how they can apply any changes to construe the decision pre 2012, due to ex post facto. If that’s the case then the ex post facto clause should be non existent, hope I made some sense of my input.

  • #28875 Reply

    Wisdom of Solomon

    Note to Pennsylvania Legislature: HOW ABOUT ABOLISHING THE REGISTRY ALTOGETHER???!!! And for all the other 49 states, the same message. This is not NAZI GERMANY circa 1930! If you want excessive punishment for people who commit sex crimes then build the excessive punishment into your penal code and be done with it. In other words, do all the punishing of the prep at the time of his/her trial, not add on years AFTER conviction and sentence. Does that not violate the EX POST FACTO CLAUSE??? Which by the way is being steadily eroded by the federal courts—along with the rest of the US Constitution. And about the US Constitution, I wish I could get an artist to draw this picture: “A town square, in the year 1776, the US Constitution stands on a high pedestal, 10 feet high, muscle bound, proud, a crowd standing around it, in awe, praising the new document. Flash forward to the year 2017, a back alley any city USA, the document, diminished to only 2 feet, tattered, torn, sloven, cigarette butt in its mouth and empty wine bottle in hand, musing about its past glory.” Yes ladies and gentleman, this is or will be very soon, the fate of our precious US Constitution.

    • #28937 Reply

      Tim L

      Wisdom of Solomon,

      I like you believe our courts have failed us in many ways but the congress has to take more of the blame for diminishing basic constitutional protections and limitations.

      The reason the founders undertook writing the constitution in the first place was to keep the union whole. Other constitutional republics have failed in the past. The American version imagined by the founders was ratified after much deliberation. The rules were established to keep government under control by purposely limiting the power to do certain things that undermine the peoples trust in their FORM of government.

  • #29049 Reply

    Adam

    I read a good portion of the bill but can not tell how it will affect my case. I was convicted in 2011 and was not required to register at all until AWA came into effect. Does this “fix” reset things to pre-AWA enough that I would come off the registry?

  • #29073 Reply

    R

    The article states, attempts to fix flaws in “m.l”. O well let’s see here, I guess there missing the whole point again about this ruling was based on ex post facto. Left that part out, for the general public to read and understand. So how now is that a flaw hmmmm!, No no wait it wasn’t a flaw until now. It wasn’t one to begin with, it’s a legit ruling by the pa,supreme Court. And its only a flaw for now for registered sex offenders, not a flaw. A foolish attempt by these crazy politicians too keep the money train flowing,now there going back to the older version!. Let me see here, how’s this you can’t fix something that can’t be fixed. I would think that no matter how they write this new construed silly bill, that they can’t bend the fix to Trump ex post facto. Next up to bat the 8,the amendment, cruel and unusual punishment for are new battle.

    • #29175 Reply

      Tim Lawver

      The most important aspect of the ruling here for pre-Megans law convicted is the INTENT of the people has been exposed. They intended to punish those already convicted. While SCOTUS 2003 found no punitive INTENT in the Whetterling act they can no longer make that claim. The proof is in the banishment! That was always going to be the goal of such another,” electronic regulatory regime…TO IMPOSE AFFIRMATIVE DISABILITY AND RESTRAINT PERIOD!

      Soon we will see the use of facial recognition devices in America to do the same thing. The devices are cheap to produce but are worthless without the all important DATABASE. Thus we see recently Mr. Schumer making law that opened the FBI database to the general public. He’s gotta have some financial interest in there somewhere.

  • #29251 Reply

    henry

    Fact 1- When Pa sorna went into effect 12/20/12 all former laws expired.42 Pacsa sec.97799.41 and1 Pacsa sec.1971(A) and Pacsa sec.1928 (b)
    Fact 2 – Pa sorna deemed punitive per muniz
    Fact 3 – only the punishment in effect date of crime can be imposed -basic expost facto -not date of conviction .
    Fact 4 – Pre Pa sorna R.C. have no legal duty to comply,.Com.V. Willams, no2191 EDA2016 decided 10/04/17 and Com.V.Dechammer ,no 121 map 2016 Dec.11/22/17,ect.
    Fact 5- File petition for review / habeas curpus all in one your county court do not name PSP as a party. They have no standing as are administrative branch.relief must be granted per the above said
    Fact 6- Every individual PSP employee,Att gen staff governor staff and the lawyers they employ have each violated the Pa.Rules of professional conduct as well as engaged in ultra vires conduct in thier non compliance with muniz. Haefer V.Melo,502 us 21 (1991) can be disciplined sued in their individual capacity and should be it has to stop..
    Fact 7- If date of crime after 12/20/17 precedent contractual law dictates adverse contracts of adhesion are unenforceable .
    Fact 8-fact 6 also applies to the proposed non-punitive Pa house bill1952 of 2017 with the added fact the USCA13 permits the punishment of involuntary servitude only when duly convicted of a crime and thats backed up by the expost facto date of crime provision.
    Fact 9- repeat the lords prayer every morning you all can’t go wrong for a fact…

  • #29373 Reply

    henry

    All m.l. have 2 things in common.they all fall under the involuntary servitude protection of the 13th amendment of U.S.C and Pa counter part as well as unconscionable adverse contract of adhesion laws.
    Fact is they ll are punishment ans unenforceable .
    First of all your government mandates you to serve them without compensation by supplying them your personal information on your own personal time and expense with ne benefit to you what soever . The 13th amendment plainly states no one shall be held in slavery nor involuntary servitude unless dully convicted of a crime. So clearly m.l. has to be deemed punishment and the expost facto clause clearly states only the punishment in place date of crime be applied .This fact effectively automatically prevents any retro active application as proposed by Pa house bill 1952 of 2017 . There never has been a non-punitive m.l. and there never lawfully ever can be by virtue of the 13th amendment and its Pa counter part. It was created long ago because they knew the future government might pull this sort of thing.
    Secondly, all these m.l. dictated by use of written terrorist threat you must enter into an unconscionable adverse contract of adhesion .Or be severely punished .
    Against your will you must provide the government your personal information and agree that if their is a change in that you will re-enter into a new contract quickly supplying the new information.Regardless whether or not there are changes ,you also agree to re-enter the contract at least once a year just as contractual law states must be done.
    After you provide the info they dictate you must verify its correct and that they can severely punish you if it is not. The verification is accomplished by signature,telephone or computer electronically. However,that is not all the form you are verifying states. It clearly states the obligations and duties you are agreeing to comply with and severe punishment if you violate those contractual terms.
    It is extremely well settled laws that under no circumstance shall any person be unwillingly forced into an unconscionable adverse contract of adhesion .
    None the less the gun packing cop will give you an order to sign to verify while your in the locked police station room and if you refuse he will arrest you for failure to obey a lawful order and who knows what else he and his comrades might frame you for .However,it is not lawful for a cop to force you into any contract and puts himself in the position of being sued personally in federal court as it’s beyond his scope of duties. Hafer V. Melo
    Before you get yourself caught up in the situation it’s better to file a petition for review/mandamus with the commonwealth court of Pa explaining the application of USCA 13th Pa. const._______ and contractual law.This way the court can point these facts of law out to your government and once and for all end these nazi-era laws.
    They already have doubled the possible sentences for these type of crimes and created 3 strike laws since the ridge admin days these m.l. are over the top…
    As far as Pa house bill 1952 of 2017 goes it is punitive and violates contractual laws.Also in Pa. nothing is allowed to become law until published in the Pa. Bulletin for 6 month.

    • #29524 Reply

      R

      I’m listening to ya Henry, like what your saying makes good sense to me. Thanks

    • #29525 Reply

      R

      From what I read bill 1952 was removed from table on Monday, is this good news . I also read that if they figure it won’t fly, they pull it rewrite it again. then put it back on for review, ? And I’m not seeking legal advice just opinions. Are county judges bound to the muniz decision, I would think that anyone granted a writ of habeas corpus hearing. Based on muniz, the judge would have to follow that order. Otherwise I see that as predujudicial misconduct, ?

  • #29589 Reply

    R

    I came across an article that said, depending on the charge one pled guitly too.they may not qualify for pre 2012 sorna relief retroactively, I hope that’s not true.

  • #29598 Reply

    JS

    As a child, I was molested multiple times by no less than 5 people. However, I did not go through my life playing the part of a victim, always needing attention and someone to feel sorry for me. If people did this today, it would cause mass unemployment (psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.). Today’s society thrives on attention, no matter what they have to do or how they have to act to get it. Sad.

  • #29677 Reply

    R

    If I read correctly bill 1952 passed, so there you have it end of story.

  • #29694 Reply

    Mike

    Can someone please read and translate page 9 for me. Letter F (applicability) under F read a,b,c,i,ii. To me it states that if you were convicted after 1996 and before 12 of 2012. Then you don’t need to register. I need an attorney to see how this new amendment affects me. Thanks

    • #29741 Reply

      R

      We’re what page and what website is the bill on so I can read it, can you or someone please send me a link thanks.

  • #29767 Reply

    Brian

    R
    The bill doesn’t pass till governor Wolf signs the bill which at this point it looks like he will do. If you go to billtrack50.com you can see the bill and the progress.

  • #29768 Reply

    Who removes from list

    If anyone is from Pennsylvania, and have been charged or convicted and are incarcerated with or for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender under SORNA.

    My husband has had his case dismissed due to MUNIZ, the DA has dropped both the charges of failure to register accurate information and failure to register updates to his internet identifiers.

    My husband’s attorney filed for Motion to Dismiss his charges per Muniz and the DA dropped the charges after using a delay tactic called 30 days to file a brief which they never filed it because Muniz applied to my husband.

    He was convicted in 2006 for his crime that placed him under Megan’s Law 3, he is PRE SORNA.

    There is no stay and they cant prosecute for failure to register as sex offender under SORNA, per Muniz and only if Muniz Decision applies to the defendant.

    Commonwealth Shawn Christopher Williams, had his cased overturned by the Superior Court for Failure to Register as a sex offender under SORNA. Muniz applied to him and he was released from prison on Oct 20, 2017 one day after his charges where dismissed.

    Look up Shawn Christopher Williams, who is not my husband, but this case was used to help push the dismissal of my husband charges.

  • #29837 Reply

    Paul

    (Awaiting moderation)

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