Amended SORNA Unconstitutional

PA Amended SORNA May Not Be Retroactively Applied to Certain Registrants

A little over a year ago, in Commonwealth v. Muniz, the PA Supreme Court ruled that SORNA may not be applied to those who committed sex offenses before SORNA became law. In February, the PA Legislature amended SORNA, attempting to “correct” the unconstitutional portions of SORNA. This led to the enactment of “Act 10.” 
 
However, PA courts have ruled that PA’s amended SORNA is still unconstitutional as applied to certain registrants.  As a result, some PA registrants may have a good case to petition the courts to get off SORNA.

The following courts have held that the revised SORNA may not be applicable to certain people:

  • Commonwealth v. Torsilieri

    • Here, the defendant’s offense occurred after SORNA became law in 2012.  As a result of the new version of SORNA, defendant had to register for life.
    • The judge ruled that the revised version of SORNA still violated defendant’s constitutional rights.  Therefore, the judge concluded that the defendant does not have to register for life. 
  • Commonwealth v. Lacombe

    • In this case, the registrant committed a sex offense and was sentenced before the amended SORNA became law. After Act 10 became law, he had to register as a sex offender for life. 
    • The judge ruled that the amended SORNA was not applicable to someone who committed a sex offense before it became law.
    • Even though the amended SORNA allowed lifetime registrants to petition to get off SORNA after 25 years, the judge still found that the retroactive application of SORNA was punitive.  Thus, in this case, SORNA was unconstitutional as applied to the registrant.
  • Commonwealth v. Fernandez

    • This was a consolidated appeal involving 19 registrants.  All of the registrants committed sex offenses and reached plea agreements before SORNA became law (Dec. 20, 2012).
    • Later, at various times, the registrants violated probation conditions, and became subject to SORNA.  Each person was then required to register for a longer period than the terms of their initial plea agreements.
    • The 19 appellants challenged their increased registration terms under the amended SORNA.  The court found that they were not subject to increased registration periods under SORNA.  Rather, they had to register for the time periods stated in their original plea agreements.
    • Thus, the court concluded that SORNA could not be imposed on those who reached plea agreements before SORNA became law (even though the registrants later violated probation terms).

How Our Firm Can Help You

If you are a PA registrant who committed a sex offense before December 20, 2012, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options A knowledgeable lawyer can help evaluate whether you were correctly placed on the amended SORNA.  Also, you may be subject to shorter registration periods. 
At Maynard Law Office, LLC, our law firm keeps current with new laws and cases that affect sex offenders.  Our firm strongly believes in protecting the constitutional rights of sex offenders.  In the past, we have helped get many clients removed from many states’ sex offender registries.  Call us today for a free consultation at (973) 540-0054.
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