Juvenile MEgan’s Law update 2012

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2012 | Firm News |

On December 20, 2011, Governor Corbett signed into law SB 1183 (1857) as Act 111 of 2011 (Megan’s Law IV). The law makes extensive revisions to Pennsylvania’s classification and registration requirements of adult and juvenile sexual offenders. Juvenile registration responsibilities are now extensive and violation consequences severe. The revised classification and registration matrix can be found on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission’s website, www.pcs.la.psu.edu, in the About the Commission, Meeting and Materials page, item sixteen.The revised registration scheme now requires previously adjudicated fourteen year or older juveniles, not subject to Megan’s Law, but whose criminal acts are now classified and fall within Megan’s law, to be subject to Megan’s Law if they are under supervision (jurisdiction) of Juvenile Court on December 21, 2012. Also, after December 20, 2011 any juvenile who admits to, or is adjudicated delinquent for, committing a major sex offense will be subject to Megan’s Law if they are under court supervision after December 21, 2012.A “Juvenile Offender” is an individual 14 years of age or older after December 21, 2012, who is adjudicated delinquent for committing a major sex offense or any time prior to that date was adjudicated delinquent for committing such an offense, regardless of age at the time the offense was committed, and as of December 21, 2012 is still under court supervision.Juvenile Offenders must now register for life (with quarterly confirmation), receive lifetime monthly counseling, and are subject to the same community notification requirements as adults. It is a separate, first degree felony offense for the Juvenile Offender to knowingly fail to comply with any post-adjudicatory treatment and/or registration requirement. 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 4915.Arrest and detention without a warrant is possible if the investigating officer has probable cause to believe a registration violation has occurred. Id. Other registrants subject to either fifteen or twenty-five year registrations commit felonies of the 3nd and 2rd degree, respectively, if they knowingly fail to register. It is a first degree misdemeanor, as well as a violation of court supervision, for lesser registrants who fail to comply with all treatment requirements. Id.Depending on the supervisory tier classification, mandatory minimum incarceration of between two and five years shall occur for the registrant, adjudicated or convicted, who fails to register for the first time. A second or subsequent conviction for failure to register carries with it a mandatory minimum jail term of twenty five (25) years to life, depending on the underlying criminal offense. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9718.4.If the Commonwealth provides notice of intent to proceed with the mandatory minimum sentence after a conviction or adjudication for failing to register, the court shall impose at least such minimum sentence. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9718.4 (C). If the court does not, the Commonwealth has a right of appeal and the appellate court shall vacate any deficient sentence and remand with instructions to impose at least the mandatory minimum sentence. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9718.4 (D).Forfeiture of any personal or real property that the court finds aided or assisted the commission of the major sex or failure to register offenses is now possible. This means houses and cars in addition to computers and other more typical instrumentalities of the crime.Most significantly, the reclassification scheme fundamentally alters the post-adjudication lifetime supervision compliance requirements of all juveniles, regardless of whether they are in custody or supervision on their 20th birthday. Juvenile Offenders, “sexually violent delinquent children”, and juveniles previously civilly committed are now required to be annually psychologically assessed and are exposed to yearly involuntarily civil commitment. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6403. Importantly, sexually violent delinquent children are those children, regardless of what sex offense they were adjudicated of committing, who have been assessed as such by the Sex Offenders Board.At a civil commitment hearing, the Commonwealth must prove by clear and convincing evidence that “the person has a mental abnormality or personality disorder which results in serious difficulty in controlling sexually violent behavior that makes the person likely to engage in an act of sexual violence.” 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6404(D). If the court makes such a finding, it shall immediately commit the individual for one year for treatment, with only annual review.If the offender is released from involuntary civil commitment, there is an additional year of involuntary outpatient treatment, with extensive supervision restrictions, including polygraph testing, prior to discharge from court supervision. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6404.2. A juvenile, or adult by now, who violates any term of the out-patient treatment plan shall be judicially recommitted for a year without a hearing upon presentation of such violations to the court. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6404.2(E).