Retroactive Application of Sex Offender Registration Ruled Unconstitutional

On July 19, 2017 in the case of Commonwealth v. Muniz, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the retroactive application of Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) is unconstitutional under both the Federal and Pennsylvania Constitutions.  The Court held that the registration requirement is a punishment, and therefore cannot be applied retroactively.

SORNA was originally enacted in 2012 and requires sex offenders who have been convicted of certain offenses to register with the Pennsylvania State Police.  SORNA assigns sex offenders to one of three tiers based on the crime for which they were convicted. Tier I (15 years registration), Tier II (25 years of registration), and Tier III offenses (lifetime registration).

In this case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the registration requirements in SORNA could not be applied to individuals who were convicted and sentenced prior to SORNA becoming law in 2012.

 

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