Sex Crimes, SORNA and Adam Walsh Act Defense

Pennsylvania Sex Crimes

Being charged with a Sex Crime in Pennsylvania has dire consequences, even before a person is convicted.  Sex Crimes are often the most sensational stories that newspapers, television, and internet news write stories often revealing very intimate details about the life and background of the accused.  Unfortunately, our society is quick to judge those accused of a sex crime as guilty, often even before hearing the government’s evidence or the statement of the accuser.  For this reason, it is necessary to retain the services of a lawyer immediately to begin the process of establishing a defense to the accusation, both in court and out of court.

Defending against a Sex Crime

Sex crimes often rely on testamentary evidence – that is, the statement of the accuser detailing her or his versions of the facts of the crime.  Therefore, it is important to begin establishing a defense, early on, and to begin an independent investigation immediately upon being informed of the allegations of criminal conduct.  The investigation must focus on determining facts to establish an alibi, witnesses to the allegations, background on the accuser, and a technical attack on the investigation of the police.  It is imperative that this investigation commences immediately as the police will continue to gather evidence against an accused up until the day of trial.

Communication with Police

Because evidence of many Sex Crimes is often of the “he said/she said” variety, the police investigation will often focus on obtaining statements from the accused.  Police will sometimes make promises to the accused of favorable treatment in exchange for a brief conversation.  When an accused person consents to this interrogation without the presence of an attorney, the conversation will often result in a lengthy confrontational ordeal that is design by the police to illicit a confession.  The design relies on breaking down the will of the accuser in an attempt to force the accuser to make statements of an admission just so the ordeal will end.  In much the same way as the results of torture often lead to inaccurate information, this type of police interrogation can result in false confessions and untrue admissions by the accuser.  It is important to speak with a lawyer prior to agreeing to speak with the police so the lawyer can counter police tactics and make sure that the accused person’s rights are not being violated and well-being is secured.

The Police sometimes rely on recorded conversations in the form of wire-tapping or “consensual telephone monitoring” to illicit statements to be used against the target of a criminal investigation into a Sex Crime.  These forms of monitoring and recording telephone calls can occur when the accused is not expecting to be interrogated and her or his guard may be down.  The police will often secure the services of the accuser to call the accused to obtain a confession – even asking that the accuser lie to the accused with the unscrupulous goal of gathering evidence to be used at trial.  Although it is often difficult to obtain the services of legal counsel to protect against this type of police-state monitoring, experienced counsel is crucial to mount a defense that attacks the credibility, admissibility, and constitutionality of the recording so that the recording is never heard by a jury.

Type of Sex Crimes

Under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Sex Crimes are generally split between Chapter 31 dealing with Sexual Offenses and Chapter 63 dealing with Minors and include:

§3121              Rape

§3122.1           Statutory Sexual Assault

§3123              Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse

§3124.1           Sexual Assault

§3124.2           Institutional Sexual Assault

§3125              Aggravated Indecent Assault

§3126              Indecent Assault

§3127              Indecent Exposure

§3129              Sexual Intercourse with Animal

§6301              Corruption of Minors

§6312              Sexual Abuse of Children

§6318              Unlawful Contact with minor

§6320              Sexual exploitation of Children

Although the Sex Crimes and sections of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code listed above is not an exhaustive list, the one’s above seem to be the most common charges in Sex Crime cases.  It is important that your attorney is familiar with both the specific language of each section, as well as the possible defenses against the allegations of these Sex Crimes.

Sex Crimes Against Children

Sex Crimes against children are generally the most harshly punished of the Crimes Code, sometimes including mandatory periods of incarceration with a minimum of ten year in a State Correctional Institution.  Even where no mandatories exist, a first offense categorize as a Sex Crime against a child often eliminates any diversionary program reserved for first time offenders, such as ARD, and can have the same offense gravity score as that of murder.  Sentences for Sex Crimes against children frequently preclude probation only and require periods of incarceration.

Collateral Consequences to Sex Crime

SORNA and Pennsylvania State Adam Walsh Act

On December 20, 2012, Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law underwent major changes. The Pennsylvania State Adam Walsh Act, Act No. 2011-111 (Pa Senate Bill 1183) was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on December 20, 2011 indicating that the new provisions became effective on December 20, 2012.  This bill is Pennsylvania’s response to the Federal Adam Walsh Act, also called the Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act which was passed in 2006 by President Bush.  Under the new provisions of SORNA, Individuals who have not

completed their period of registration under the former Megan’s Law by December 20, 2012 must comply with the SORNA or face criminal prosecution and potential prison sentences starting at two years and going as high as twenty-five years.  The new requirements create three “tiers” of Sex Crimes and require:

Tier I. Registration for 15 years and requires in-person appearance at an approved registration site to provide or verify the required information and to be photographed on an Annual basis.  Violation of this registration requirement will result in a mandatory minimum period of incarceration of two years for a first violation to report and three years for providing inaccurate information.

Tier II. Registration is for 25 years and requires in-person appearance at an approved registration site to provide or verify the required information and to be photographed is Semiannual (every six months). The is a mandatory minimum period of incarceration for a violation of Tier II registration requirements is three year prison sentence for the first failure to report and a five year prison sentence for the first failure to provide accurate information.

Tier III. Registration is for the Lifetime of the individual. This Tier requires registration for the Tier III offenses below, and also includes any person who is considered to be a “Sexually Violent Predatory” and Juveniles over the age of 14 at the time of any tiered offense. Requirements are in-person appearance at an approved registration site to provide or verify the required information and to be photographed is Quarterly (every three months). There is a mandatory minimum three year prison sentence for the first failure to report and a five year prison sentence for the first failure to provide accurate information.

The offenses and their tiers, as described in 42 Pa.C.S. §9799.14 are:

 

Offenses § 9799.14
Tier I (15 years) Tier II (25 years) Tier III (Life)
Kidnapping                                           (18 Pa. C.S. § 2901) X                                                     (§ 2901(a.1): kidnapping of a minor)
Unlawful Restraint                            (18 Pa. C.S. § 2902) X                                                          (§ 2902(b): minor complainant; offender not parent or guardian)
False Imprisonment                         (18 Pa. C.S. § 2903) X                                                          (§ 2903(b): minor complainant; offender not parent or guardian)
Interference with Custody of Children                                                (18 Pa. C.S. § 2904) X
Luring Child into a MV                       (18 Pa. C.S. § 2910) X
Rape                                                        (18 Pa. C.S. § 2910) X
Statutory Sex Assault                        (18 Pa. C.S. § 3122.1) X                                                          (§ 3122.1(a)(2): “Eight years older but less than 11 years older than the complainant”) X                                                     (§ 3122.1(b): “11 or more years older than the complainant”)
IDSI                                                          (18 Pa. C.S. § 3123) X
Sexual Assault                                     (18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.1) X
Inst. Sex Assault                                 (18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.2) X                                                          (§ 3124.2(a)) X                                                           (§§ 3124.2(a.2-a.3)) X                                                        (§ 3124.2(a.1))
Agg. Indecent Assault                      (18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.2) X
Indecent Assault                                (18 Pa. C.S. § 3126) X                                                          (§ 3126(a)(1): M2) X                                                           (§§ 3126(a)(2-6),(8)) X                                                       (§ 3126(a)(7))
Incest                                                      (18 Pa. C.S. § 4302) X                                                        (§ 4302(b): of a minor)
Promoting Prostitution of a Minor                                                             (18 Pa. C.S. § 5902) X                                                            (§ 5902(b.1))
Obscene Materials, Minor Complainant                                           (18 Pa. C.S. § 5903) X                                                            (§§ 5903(a)(3)(ii), 4(ii) 5(ii), 6))
Corruption of Minors                       (18 Pa. C.S. § 6301) X                                                           (§ 6301(a)(1)(ii): F3)
Sexual Abuse of Children                (18 P.a. C.S. § 6312) X                                                           (§ 6312(d)) X                                                            (§§ 6312(b), (c))
Unlawful Contact with Minor   (18 Pa. C.S. § 6318) X
Sexual Exploitation of Children (18 Pa. C.S. § 6320) X
Invasion of Privacy                             (18 Pa. C.S. § 7507.1) X
Federal Offenses A list of federal crimes A list of federal crimes Three federal crimes
Multiple Convictions “Two or more convictions of offenses listed as Tier I or Tier II sexual offenses”
Similar Offenses “A comparable military offense or similar offense under the law of another jurisdiction or foreign country, or under a former law of this Commonwealth”     “A conviction for a sexual offense in another jurisdiction or foreign country that is not set forth in this section, but nevertheless requires registration under a sexual offender statute in the jurisdiction or foreign country” “A comparable military offense or similar offense under the law of another jurisdiction or foreign country, or under a former law of this Commonwealth” “A comparable military offense or similar offense under the law of another jurisdiction or country, or under a former law of this Commonwealth”
Attempt, Conspiracy or Solicitation “An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit an offense listed” above “An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit an offense listed” above “An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit an offense listed” above
Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) Sexually violent predators