PA cannot require registration of juvenile offenders rules PA Supreme Court

[ – 5/28/20]

In 2006, Defendant  Zeno committed two delinquent acts that occurred when he was age 14 and 16. Because of the nature of the two acts, his case was transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court where he pled guilty to rape of a child, sexual assault, criminal attempt (rape), criminal attempt (incest), and indecent assault. The trial court sentenced him to an aggregate sentence of four to eight years’ incarceration followed by five years’ probation, and informed him that he would be required to register as a sex offender. In August of 2017, Zeno was found guilty of violating the terms of his probation and parole and was sentenced to 2 to 10 years of incarceration.

Zeno challenged the registration based on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Ruling in In Re J.B.,107 A.3d 1 (Pa. 2014) that “SORNA’s registration requirements improperly brand all juvenile offender’s reputations with an indelible mark of a dangerous recidivist even though the irrebuttable presumption linking adjudication of specified offenses with a high likelihood of recidivating is not ‘universally true.’ . . . The application of SORNA’s current lifetime registration requirements upon adjudication of specified offenses violates juvenile offenders’ due process rights by utilizing an irrebuttable presumption.”

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Thats great! But why can’t this apply to adults if “presumption” is the core of the ruling?

All the arguments as to why the registry shouldn’t apply to minors is good fro everyone: The lifetime stigma, the fact that recidivism is low, the risk of putting personal information out to the public. Hey, I have an idea, how about every person that commits a crime be dealt with on an individual basis, and have an appropriate consequence for that person’s offense. I know, pretty foolish idea.

A victory is a victory nonetheless. We are absolutely cleaning house in Pennsylvania. The more courts say this is punitive, the more it benefits all of us.