Because many people are uncomfortable talking about sex crimes, it can often be difficult for individuals to define what constitutes a sex offender. A lack of understanding of these laws can lead to inadvertently breaking the law. In addition, when the general public doesn’t understand the laws, it can create even more confusion and put individuals at a higher risk for becoming a victim. With Megan’s Law, which requires the state to maintain an updated sex offender registry, it’s even more important for residents to understand the definitions so they can weigh the level of risk when choosing a home.
What Is a Sex Offender?
According to the Pennsylvania state laws, a sex offender is anyone who has been charged and convicted of a sexually related crime. This can include rape or any kind, whether with a minor or an older individual, including those who are impaired by drugs, alcohol or a mental disability. Sexual assault also falls under this category. While similar to a rape charge, a charge of sexual assault typically refers to cases where consent could not be given, such as juvenile detention centers mental health facilities, schools, child care facilities and sports venues. Some of the other potential charges that fit under this category include aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.
Megan’s Law was instituted to help protect individuals from being assaulted by a known sexual offender. While there’s little that can be done to prevent assaults from a new offender, the government determined there was a way to keep track of existing offenders and provide valuable information to anyone who may come in contact with them. This law was created in response to a young lady named Megan who was lured by a neighbor who was a two-time convicted pedophile. This law requires all states to maintain an updated, accurate sex offender registry that is open to the public so parents and others can use it to protect their children and other at-risk individuals in the community.
Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry
Every individual is convicted of a sex crime may be ordered to register on the sex offender list depending on the severity of their offense. For individuals who commit a tier one offense, registration is required for 15 years. Tier two crimes require 25 years on the list and tier three crimes mandate lifetime registration because these are the most dangerous offenders. Offenders who are convicted of any sex crime and are considered sexually violent predators or a child who is deemed a sexually violent deviant child will be required to register for life. However, juveniles who are convicted under typical circumstances are not required to register per Pennsylvania law. It’s also important to consider the frequency of reporting required.
- Tier one offenders must report annually
- Tier two offenders must report twice a year
- Tier three offenders must report four times a year
- Transient offenders must report monthly
During this reporting period, sex offenders must report any change in name, address, contact information, student enrollment status or anything that may put them in contact with at-risk individuals.
When you are facing charges that could land you on the sex offender list, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the consequences and how to handle your case. Our experienced attorneys have handled a number of cases will ensure you have the guidance you need to reduce your risk of being forced to register as a sex offender. Contact our offices today for a free legal consultation.