Extending Registration Period in PA Violates Contract Law

In December of 2013, we discussed the PA Superior Court's decision in Hainesworth, wherein the court found that the defendant was not required to register as a sex offender retroactively under SORNA because non-registration was a term of his plea contract. On September 9, 2014, the Superior Court expanded this legal rationale to include the extension of one's registration period. In Commonwealth v. Nase, 2014 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2014), the defendant accepted a plea bargain that required him to register under Megan's Law for a period of 10 years. Subsequent to the passage of the new version of Megan's Law on December 20, 2012, however, he was told that his registration period had been extended to 25 years. After being denied relief by the lower court, he appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. The Superior Court applied the same legal analysis used in Hainesworth, and was tasked with determining whether the "ten-year registration period was a material part of the plea agreement." It found that the record in the case did establish that a ten-year period of registration was part of Appellant's plea agreement, and that he "is entitled to the benefit of his bargain, and is not subject to additional registration beyond that envisioned by his plea agreement." It is not clear what the standard of proof is when determining whether registration, or a registration period was a condition of a plea agreement, but based upon the Hainesworth and Nase cases, one has a much better chance of winning this legal challenge if there is some mentioning of either condition in the plea transcript. This is not to say that a legal challenge could not be made based upon implicit evidence, however.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2016: See the most recent favorable verdicts regarding this issue:

1) http://cases.justia.com/pennsylvania/superior-court/2016-862-eda-2016.pdf?ts=1482358757

2) http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-29C-2016mo%20-%2010282682612021420.pdf?cb=1


Please note that our firm does not handle registration issues, but strives to provide the public with a clear understanding of the laws. If this ruling is applicable to your situation, you should contact and hire a criminal defense attorney in your area immediately.  If you or someone you know is currently being charged with a sex crime and needs legal assistance, please visit our website and contact us. The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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20 Responses to Extending Registration Period in PA Violates Contract Law

  1. Albert says:

    I was convicted in 2011 I was only supposed to register for ten years now they say I have to register for the rest of my life how do I get off the registry

  2. Sean Ross says:

    I took a plea bargain in 2001, convicted of sexual abuse of children – possession and criminal use of communications equipment. At that time, Megan’s law was deemed unconstitutional in bucks county and I was sentenced to 3 to 23 months house arrest, $500 restitution to a victim’s assistance network, NO required registration for Megan’s law. In 2006, I was forced to register as tier 1. Under SORNA in 2012, I was reclassified as a tier 3. In 2014, CPSL 6303 came into play, November 2015 my oldest non-bio daughter was removed via philadelphia dhs, January 2016, my bio children were removed – all 3 children removed under the CPSL 6303 and the PDHS caseworker admitted in court that there was no evidence of any kind of abuse. My children are currently (as of September 2016) still in foster care and nobody is certain whether or not I am able to return home if/when the children come out of the system. Previous landlord is still vindictively calling Harrisburg and saying that I’m not living where I am registered and I have proof of her doing so. June 2016, new Jersey classified me as a tier 1 (I was told I had to register in new Jersey, because I work over there). August 2016, Pennsylvania moved me down to a tier 2. This is just the basics, any words of advice will help. Thank you for your time.

  3. SB says:

    Good News?!


    Challenge to SORNA retroactivity reaches Pennsylvania Supreme Court


  4. SB says:

    Do you have any insight as to how this make shake out?

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments over the constitutionality of a retroactive increase to an individual’s time spent on the state’s sex-offender registry following the 2012 enactment of new guidelines.

    Read more: http://www.thelegalintelligencer.com/id=1202756275835/High-Court-to-Review-SexOffender-Registry-Requirements#ixzz48S5Ifcqu

  5. Lanny says:

    I was sentenced under New Jersey Megan Law to 15 years to life but was told it would end in 15 years. It didn’t since then I moved to PA in 2014 an they entered me from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 an now Registering for Life. Is this Constitutional or can I fight it.

  6. bill says:

    i plead quilty to 1 count of poss of child porn under a plea agreement in 2001

    two yrs probation without having to register. got letter in 2008 saying i had to register for 10 yrs

    now under sorna i have to reg for 15 yrs,  do i have any legal recourse?



  7. Mike says:

    Mielnicki came down today and the PA Supreme Court threw out the Appeal!  It's sometimes called a DIG, Dismissed as having been Improvidently Granted. 

    Looks ms like we have to fight a different battle. So bummed!

    • Jim says:

      wait what? why?

      • Mike says:


        There was and will not be any reason given. This is an uncommon action by a state supreme court but it happens. Mostly around hot topic issues. An occasion one or two of the Justices would write an opinion if they were out voted or had a strong opinion, but this issue was just tossed out with no explaination. 

        more and more as I read the pa news, I am disappointed by all branches of this state government. We are truly the laughing stock of the country when it comes to our elected officials. Florida and Texas now have a new whipping boy. 

        Good news is that Com v A.S. Most likely want make it to the PASC and we can use that case down the line. 

  8. Jeffrey says:

    In 2002 I plead to indesent assault (m1) and also corruption of a minor (m1) was released on December 17 2002 and started my 10 year registry thinking I was going to be done but told I need now to do this for the rest of my life and every quarter. I asked when this all first started that my time should of been done before December 20 2012 the pa state police stated that my paperwork they recieved in Harrisburg wasn’t until after that and was nothing I could do. Was wondering now that this has come to light if there may be some hope to ending my now life sentence

  9. Jim says:

    So does this mean those of us who were supposed to be removed off the registry after the 10 year period and who were changed by SORNA to 25 or lifetime are now going to be given relief and put back to the original time?

  10. Matthew24 says:

    Ok, I have a ? I was convicted in 1995 and sentenced in 1996, back when they didn’t know what to do with child porn over the internet. I was sentenced to 9 years on 5 counts.
    There was no mention during my plea agreement about how long I would have to register, just that I would have to register with Megans law. I got out in 2004 and was told by the federal probation office that I had to register for 10 years. 2014 would have been my last year, until this new law, NOW, because I had 5 conviction on the same docket I am a life time register-er. Is there any hope of this changing and if so any idea how to change this??? Or am I completely done for??

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