SORNA held unconstitutional in Pennsylvania

A court calling the sex offender registry “an overbroad, suffocating net“? Is this the beginning of the end of the registry? No, of course not. But it’s does offer a glimmer of hope. Perhaps there is some room in our system for some forward movement toward more rational sex offense laws.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania remanded a case back to the trial courts for the judge in the case to analyze SORNA’s constitutionality. On August 23, 2022, the court handed down a decision. “No,” the court said. SORNA is not constitutional “as a legislative scheme,” and it is unconstitutional as applied to the defendant.

The court starts by examining SORNA’s irrebuttable presumption that all sex offenders, regardless of their personal characteristics and circumstances, have a high risk of reoffending sexually. That presumption is not consititutional, the Court concludes, because it is empirically false. The vast majority of sex offenders do not reoffend sexually.

The court also considered a separate question– whether the sex offender registry constituted criminal punishment. The court found it does. And because it constitutes criminal punishment, it’s punitive nature offends Apprendi; results in a criminal sentence in excess of the statutory maximums; violates Federal and State proscriptions against cruel and unusual punishment; and breaches the separation of powers doctrine.

I was curious about the judge, the Honorable Allison Bell Royer. A registered Republican, she has a degree in Government, used to run her own law firm, has previously practiced criminal defense and is apparently a member of the Chester County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

3 thoughts on “SORNA held unconstitutional in Pennsylvania

  1. This kind of unsparingly honest ruling against the sex offense registry is way, way overdue. I hope that when this case comes back before the PA Supreme Court, it will be shot down for good. This makes a very convincing argument for registrants in other states to use when challenging the constitutionality of their respective states’ registry schemes. This shot the registry down cold on all fronts it seems.

  2. It seems no one is willing to accept what a knife to the throat is vs being curious and making that mistake through child experience. its horrible that no body can ever think that im not a criminal i have none of those interest. and further more for apprendi it still applies and now if you read everything it has been denied for within federal grounds in supreme for persay illinois. i cant even use this case. but apprendi still applies based on completed sentence and now further registration aftr it was told 5 to 10 now life? how is that fair for a child who wasnt ill who hasnt ever commited a crime and did not even know sex was a crime. like Sakes here man how do i present this? i cant. laws literally got put in place where i cant even show as an adult how irrelevant the charges are compared to the situation.

  3. I think this is showing progress, and in the right direction… The real issue is the adjudication, and sentencing of crimes.. Every State has laws on this process for each crime… Makes no sense to convict someone weather by Jury or Plea, make them serve their sentence, then let them free, then requiring them to register for any length of time after the release… Once Your time is served that is it, its over… Politicians have been using the term sex offender to mislabel, and mislead people into thinking its rape in order to show tough on crime at peoples expense, when its not, see Toolate vs Illinois which was the last case ruled on before California enacted the first sex offender registration statute… Toolate even tho naked didn’t attempt to rape anyone even tho naked, and trespassing onto property, which he left when told to do so… You cant label an action as a crime of rape when the elements do not exist.. Then every state followed suit with their own laws to circumvent the courts opinion under color of law through congress sex offender Acts.. The Acts pretty much made any lesser offense however not rape equal to that of rape even tho the elements of rape were not present and gave that power to each State to make its own laws.. Every State has rape laws, ask yourself why do the states not use these rape laws to prosecute anyone and sentence them to 20-40 years as it says so in the law, but instead they desire under color of law to mislabel criminal activity as sex offenders (less time) to get around elements of an offense, and now everyone technically is a rapist even when no rape has occurred, and its used to punish people and subjugate them into servitude by controlling how they can, and cannot live their life freely after serving their sentence.. I say everyone because it really doesn’t take much to land anyone on a sex offender registry a simple lie, twist of truth, a ill-perceived perception of what had transpired in any situation. Everyone already has a spot waiting for them on the registry just as any person that was labeled as a witch was and burnt at the stake, or anyone labeled as a Jew and not perfect enough to allow into society.. An outcast… All it takes is for someone to point a finger, and someone poor enough not to afford a lawyer, and a easy plea bargain, and your screwed…
    It should not have taken 30 plus years for higher courts to see this, but at least its a start… Hopefully people can be truly free after serving their sentences when released under their own re cognizant.. If not then releasing someone on their own serves no purpose to rehabilitation…

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