PA Court Bars Retroactive Sex Offender Registration

The state supreme court said sex offenders convicted before a 2012 law was enacted cannot be compelled to adhere to registration protocols required under the law.

Nearly 4,000 crime victims will be affected by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling this week that bars the retroactive extension of registration requirements for sex offenders, reports State Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm said her office is reaching out to all of them as it tries to gauge the impact of that ruling, which the divided court issued Wednesday in a Cumberland County case. The majority ruling by Justice Kevin M. Dougherty established that state officials can’t increase the amount of registration time required for sex offenders who were convicted before the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act was adopted in 2012.

Several convicted sex offenders had filed legal challenges to retroactive registration orders. Dougherty found that the SORNA requirement that offenders must register with state police is a “punishment” and so cannot be increased retroactively. Storm said her agency is working with its legal teams to determine how the Supreme Court decision will affect 3,929 sex crime victims who receive SORNA notifications for older cases. Victims can call her office at 800-563-6399.