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Posts Tagged ‘megan’s law’

Megan’s Law and the National Public Sex Offender Registry

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

A consequence of being convicted of certain sex offenses is the requirement to register as a sex offender. This requirement, generally referred to as “Megan’s Law,” can be for life or for a number of years.

Having to register as a sex offender has a number of significant negative consequences. First, the registries are public and, of course, are available on the internet, making them a constant source of public shaming for both the offender and his family. In addition, it makes it difficult for individuals on this registry to obtain employment and housing.

Sadly, there is no evidence that registration prevents future criminal conduct. It would thus appear that registration is nothing more than additional punishment.

But a new problem related to the registry emerged in 2007, when then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declared the federal reporting requirement (The Adam Walsh Act) to be retroactive. That meant someone who had been convicted prior to the passage of the new law was now subject to its provisions.

Failure to register is a separate crime. But punishing someone for conduct which predates the law is generally an unconstitutional violation of the ex post facto doctrine. Louisiana has recently held this to be the case. Similarly, in 2008, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act does not apply to persons whose acts predate the effective date of the Act.

This is an issue I expect to see a lot more of.

–Stanton D. Levenson

Current Sex Offense Case and the Registration Requirements of Megan’s Law

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Sex offense cases pose a particularly difficult challenge when they implicate the onerous, unfair, ineffective, and totally counter-productive Megan’s law registration requirements.

In Pennsylvania, certain sex offenses carry a ten year registration requirement, while other sex offenses mandate a lifetime registration. Failure to register is a separate crime punishable by a separate term of imprisonment.

Yesterday I represented a young man at his Preliminary Hearing for four sex abuse related offenses. Two of the offenses carried a ten year registration requirement.

Prior to the hearing, the Assistant District Attorney offered the following plea bargain: in exchange for waiving the hearing, the D.A. would withdraw two of the charges and recommend a sentence of probation.

One of the two charges that the Defendant would have been required to plead guilty to carried a ten year registration requirement. The Defendant rejected the offer.

We then had the hearing. Based upon my cross-examination of the alleged victim, I was able to persuade the District Magistrate to dismiss the two counts carrying the registration requirements.

We will have a trial in criminal court on the remaining two counts. The Magistrate’s decision deprives the D.A. of a valuable and unfair negotiating tool– the ten year registration requirement. In addition, by having the invaluable opportunity of cross-examining the alleged victim at this early stage of the proceedings, I was able to develop information which should pave the way to a successful result at trial.

–Stanton D. Levenson