Governor Wolf Signs Bill to Protect Victims of Sexual Abuse Crimes

February 21, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today signed House Bill 631 into law, now Act 10 of 2018, the primary intent of which is to provide for greater public safety by ensuring convicted sexual offenders remain subject to registration requirements in the wake of recent court decisions impacting Pennsylvania’s implementation of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Ron Marsico, would ensure that as many as 12,000 sexual offenders remain on Pennsylvania’s registry and subject to the regulations in place at the time of their offense – either a 10-year or lifetime registration.

“I am proud to sign this bill, which helps to keep Pennsylvanians safer by maintaining a comprehensive list of sexual offenders,” said Governor Wolf. “We must maintain confidence in our judicial system, especially for victims of sexual abuse crimes. This bill works to help do that.”

HB 631 provides guidance on Commonwealth v. Muniz, where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the commonwealth’s sexual registration statute, commonly referred to as the Adam Walsh Act, could not be applied retroactively.

Without this legislation, any person whose offense occurred prior to the enactment of SORNA in December 2012 would not be required to register as a sexual offender and those placed on the registry for offenses committed prior to that date would have been subject to removal.

Muniz held that offenders couldn’t be held to the stricter provisions of the 2012 version of SORNA.

This bill also addresses gaps in supervision of sexual offenders by providing for a mandatory three-year probationary period at the completion of their maximum state sentence.

“I took a hard look at strengthening our laws regarding sex offenders who pose a serious risk to public safety when they reenter the community,” Rep. Marsico said. “This legislation requires the courts to impose a mandatory three-year probation period consecutive to any term of total confinement for a person convicted of a Tier III sex offense under Megan’s Law. With this, probation and parole supervision can help keep law enforcement and the community informed about parolees’ work and home locations.

“As lawmakers, our priority is to keep the communities in our commonwealth safe and I am confident this law will achieve that goal. I want to thank the members of the House and Senate for passing this legislation and the governor for signing it into law today.”

The SORNA provisions in the new law take effect immediately; the mandatory three-year probation takes effect in 60 days.

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