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PA: Change in sex offender law leads to appeals

In September 2011, ____ ____, then 26, was arrested for having a relationship with a 15-year-old girl. … Six months later, he agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanor counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors, while the prosecution dropped felony statutory sexual assault. … Nowhere in the agreement or at his March 5, 2012, plea hearing was there ever any mention of having to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. …

So months later, when Mr. ____ was notified by the Pennsylvania State Police to comply with the new Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which took effect in December 2012, Mr. Jones was mad. Full Article

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This is pretty much identical to the Doe v. Harris case our California Supreme Court decided last year — to the detriment of registrants. Our high court disagrees with the Pennsylvania Superior Court, ruling that the state of the law at the time of a plea bargain is not binding, the law can be changed and applied to the defendant later. Our court’s ruling pretty much makes a plea bargain nearly useless. Under our high court’s decision, even if you work toward and meet the standard for relief from registration, and are granted relief, a change in the law later can be used to force you to start registering again — as many are now after previously having been granted relief under the old standard which now has been increased to having to apply for a pardon.

“Mr. Yung (law professor at the University of Kansas) countered by saying that sex offenders have the ability to avoid the punishment associated with registering by simply complying with the law.” – Really????

OMG. That is like saying prison or jail is not punishment as long as you adhere to all its rules and regulations (like staying in your little cell).

Bottom line…. Doe v. Smith. MUST. be. overturned. If it walks like a duck, if it talks like a duck….

That is the root of all evil. What to do? Who to do it? Is it Janice Bellucci who will end up doing it? If so, how?

THAT is the white whale that must be slain. Nothing else matters. This site should start collecting funds for this endeavor, specifically. I’m in.

When Mr. Yung said you can avoid the punishment associated with registering by complying with the law, I think he meant not by committing a sex offense in the first place.

I read his article about the Second Circuit opinion in Doe v. Cuomo on this topic: He is not a good writer, and that certainly is where there is ambiguity in his statement you mention. In fact, he seems to think the way the courts have handled such pea bargaining is unfair and makes plea bargains unreliable. You can see that article here:

Nonetheless, from what he wrote on the Second Circuit opinion, which effectively supported California’s Doe v. Harris of last year, it sounds like the Doe v. Harris thinking is widespread in the judiciary across the nation – fair or not.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x