PA Supreme Court Declares Retroactive Application of SORNA / Megan’s Law Unconstitutional – 2017

****UPDATE – Petition for Writ of Certiorari Denied – U.S. Supreme Court Appeal – January 22, 2018 – This means that the below ruling was not disturbed****

Since Pennsylvania’s implementation of SORNA on December 20, 2012, numerous legal challenges regarding its seemingly unconstitutional application have found dead ends. That is until today, July 19 2017, when PA’s highest court released its opinion of the case Commonwealth v Muniz (No. 47 MAP 2016). Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has declared the retroactive application of the state’s SORNA laws to be unconstitutional under the ex post facto clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions.


Until today, Pennsylvania courts have found that the registration, verification, and counseling requirements of Megan’s Law/SORNA “were not sufficiently onerous to be considered punishment.” And because the provisions were not deemed punishment, their retroactive application did not violate the ex post facto clause of Pennsylvania’s Constitution. Since such rulings, such as in Commonwealth v. Williams, 832 A.2d 962 (Pa. Sept. 25, 2003) and Commonwealth v. Perez, 97 A.3d 747 (Pa. Super. Ct. July 9, 2014), politicians and lawmakers have continued to add to the restrictions and requirements of those who were required to register as sex offenders. And as the court in Muniz found, these additional burdons have finally tipped the scale from remedial to punitive effects.


As a result of a conviction for Indecent Assault in Cumberland County, PA, Defendant was scheduled to be sentenced on May 8, 2007 at which time he would have been required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. Because Defendant absconded, he was not sentenced until after PA implemented its SORNA laws, and therefore was sentenced with lifetime registration requirements under SORNA. Upon appeal, the PA Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision on August 7, 2015. Defendant appealed the decision to the PA Supreme Court, which brings us to today’s ruling.

In its analysis, the PA Supreme Court court in Muniz was tasked with determining whether PA’s existing SORNA requirements, when applied retroactively, violate the PA Constitution and/or the United States Constitution. Having found that the legislative intent of SORNA was not to punish, the Court was next required to determine whether SORNA is “sufficiently punitive in effect to overcome the General Assembly’s stated non-punitive purpose” using the Mendoza-Martinez factors.


i. Whether the Statute Involves an Affirmative Disability or Restraint

“….we find the in-person reporting requirements, for both verification and changes to an offender’s registration, to be a direct restraint upon appellant and hold this factor weighs in favor of finding SORNA’s effect to be punitive.”

ii. Whether the Sanction Has Been Historically Regarded as Punishment

“We conclude the weighing process with regard to this Mendoza-Martinez factor presents a much closer case than the Smith Court’s analysis of Alaska’s registration statute in 2003. We consider SORNA’s publication provisions-when viewed in the context of our current internet-based world-to be comparable to shaming punishments. We also find SORNA and the Alaska statute are materially different in their mandatory conditions such that SORNA is more akin to probation. We therefore hold this factor weighs in favor of finding SORNA’s effect to be punitive.”

iii. Whether the Statute Comes into Play Only on a Finding of Scienter

“….we agree with the Smith Court in finding this factor is of little significance in our inquiry.”

iv. Whether the Operation of the Statute Promotes the Traditional Aims of Punishment

“Under the circumstances, we conclude SORNA is much more retributive than Megan’s Law II and the Alaska statute at issue in Smith, and this increase in retributive effect, along with the fact SORNA’s provisions act as deterrents for a number of predicate offenses, all weigh in favor of finding SORNA punitive.”

v. Whether the Behavior to which the Statute applies is Already a Crime

“As with the third Mendoza-Martinez factor discussed above, this factor carries little weight in the balance.”

vi. Whether there is an Alternative Purpose to which the Statute may be Rationally Connected

“We therefore conclude there is a purpose other than punishment to which the statute may be rationally connected and this factor weighs in favor of finding SORNA to be nonpunitive.”

vii. Whether the Statute is Excessive in Relation to the Alternative Purpose Assigned

“Accordingly, we conclude SORNA’s requirements are excessive and over-inclusive in relation to the statute’s alternative assigned purpose of protecting the public from sexual offenders.”

viii. Balancing of Factors

“Our review of SORNA under the Mendoza-Martinez factors reveals significant differences between Pennsylvania’s most recent attempt at a sex offender registration statute and the statutes upheld in Williams II and Smith. As stated, we have determined four of the five factors to which we have given weight-all except for whether there is an alternative purpose to which the statute may be rationally connected-weigh in favor of finding SORNA to be punitive in effect despite its expressed civil remedial purpose. We conclude SORNA involves affirmative disabilities or restraints, its sanctions have been historically regarded as punishment, its operation promotes the traditional aims of punishment, [*72]  including deterrence and retribution, and its registration requirements are excessive in relation to its stated nonpunitive purpose. Accordingly, we hold the retroactive application of SORNA to appellant violates the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution.”

State Ex Post Facto Claim

“For those reasons, we find Pennsylvania’s ex post facto clause provides even greater protections than its federal counterpart, and as we have concluded SORNA’s registration provisions violate the federal clause, we hold they are also unconstitutional under the state clause.”

What This Means for Current Individuals on The Registry

1) If you were initially not required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction prior to December 20, 2012, and subsequently was required to register retroactively as a result of this conviction due to Pennsylvania’s implementation of SORNA on December 20, 2012, you are entitled to relief.

2) If you were required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction prior to December 20, 2012, and subsequently was retroactively required to register for a longer period of time as a result of this conviction due to Pennsylvania’s implementation of SORNA on December 20, 2012, you are entitled to relief.

3) If you were required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction prior to December 20, 2012, and subsequently was retroactively required to fulfill more obligations as a result of this conviction due to Pennsylvania’s implementation of SORNA on December 20, 2012, you are entitled to relief.

To put it simply, if your conviction was prior to December 20, 2012, SORNA’s provisions shall not apply to you.


The Defender Association of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers

Assessment and Treatment Alternatives

The Joseph J. Peters Institute

The Collateral Consequences Resource Center

The Social Science Scholars


Disclaimer: 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. WE DO NOT HANDLE REGISTRATION MATTERS.

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63 Responses to PA Supreme Court Declares Retroactive Application of SORNA / Megan’s Law Unconstitutional – 2017

  1. connie says:

    Hi my son was convicted of indecent alt in 2004 then in 2012 was put on megans law.He has just received the letter that hes no longer to register, so by law does he still gotta finish probation? We cant get no answers at all from his public defender. thank you

  2. george says:

    Maybe my comment that I wanted to post was too long. Here is a shorter version:

    Update: My name has been removed from ML website. I talked to PSP. They said my removal form ML site is permanent. I think they are in process of removing up to 5000 names at this time. Best wishes to all and good luck!

  3. Dee says:

    I added a comment a few days ago, but it hasn’t shown up and I really want to share a piece of information with all of you.

    My husband is off of the list. He was convicted in 2004 with an expected “freedom” date of June 2014 until the SORNA legislation changed his date off the list to 2019. Well, he happened to check his page on the PA ML site in March and he was no longer listed. He has not been re-added since (as if it had been a mistake to remove him). Apparently, the PSP are actively removing individuals who should no longer be on the site due to pre-SORNA rules. However, they did not notify us with a letter and we can only assume that is because they want people to think they are still being monitored.

    Anyway, if you are waiting for and expecting relief with the SC findings and the law pushed through by Harrisburg earlier this year, check the ML site. You may no longer be listed without knowing it.

  4. george says:

    Very unexpected!: I received a letter from the PSP today. See my prior post dated 5/8/2018. My PSP letter says (in contradiction to what an attorney and PSP said 10 days ago) the following:

    A review of your conviction record has revealed you are no longer required to register as a sexual offender with the PSP at this time. Your information has been removed from the public website effective with the date of this correspondence (dated 5/15/18). You are no longer required to verify or report a change of address, employment, schooling or other required information to the PSP. However, in the event you travel to or reside/work/attend school in another state, you may be required comply with sexual offender registration requirements for that state. Etc, Let me know if you want me to type the rest.

    Can someone tell me what happened here? I did not check the PSP website yet or talk to anyone about this. Thank you.

  5. Dee says:

    Hi all,

    I have posted a few times before about my husband’s situation. He was convicted in 2004 and was supposed to be off the list in 2014. Well, the PSP must be working on expunging individuals from the list because when my husband checked his name in mid-March, he was not to be found. He is close to the beginning of the alphabet, so I’m wondering if they are working on it from A-Z. He has continually checked the site since then and his name has not shown back up. The thing that aggravates me is that the PSP will send a letter as soon as they can to tell you about some change that will negatively affect you (this happened in 2006 when they added addresses to the list and then in 2012 to tell us about the SORNA extension). However, they removed his name and we have received NO notification from them. I guess they don’t want to notify SOs of this change — something that affects their freedom and lessens their anxiety — because they want them to feel like they’re still being monitored.

    Anyway, this is incredible news and it has been like winning the lottery. Sort of. I’m still not 100% certain that the PSP isn’t going to turn around and say “just kidding” and send him out his annual registration papers (which should have arrived already, so maybe we are truly in the clear). I’m a little concerned because of the silence on the PSP’s end, yet we’re afraid to contact them and ask because *what if* he gets re-added to the list, as if it were a mistake to remove him? This is the kind of fear and anxiety that we live with (as you all certainly experience as well). So, we’re glad that things are (apparently) moving in the right direction, but we’re still not entirely sure if we can believe it yet. Just keep checking the list to see if you’re on it, because the PSP will evidently NOT contact you to let you know that you’re officially off…

    Good luck to you all!

  6. george says:

    I was convicted of a single count of indecent assault in 2005. My 10 year registration period under Megan’s law was to expire 9/2015.

    My attorney left private practice a couple months ago. I am getting information from my talk today with an attorney who is very familiar with the new law and volunteered to talk to me as a non-client for a few minutes. The attorney said that the new law is being appealed and may take a couple years before this is resolved, likely by the PA Supreme Court. This attorney said it would be reasonable for me to find out the new law requirements from the PSP and wait for results of the appeal.

    Here is information from my visit today to the PA Megan’s law website; the link is provided here. I also called the PSP today for confirmation. Please correct me if anyone believes that I am misunderstanding anything here.

    Here is my understanding of the new law. Since my offence was prior to 12/20/2012, I am required to appear annually for life at the PSP instead of quarterly for life. Also, the only changes of information I am required to provide the PSP between annual visits concerns the following: Address, employer and student information. My understanding is I can provide these changes by mail, but I will appear in person to be safe. I am not required to report changes in phone, email or internet identifiers or anything else in between annual registration visits.

  7. B says:

    Hello, I have been fallowing the Muniz case sense June 2017, I was suposed to be off the reg in 2013 but SORNA scooped me up in December 2012, now that Muniz was was won and cert was denied HB 1952, then HB 631 which have now become ACT 10 of 2018 on February 22.2018, so people convicted after 1997 but before 12/20/2012 must comply under this new bs law even though we are due relief, people convicted after 12/20/2012 still have to register under SORNA, Being an out of state offender seams to turn the tables for my due relief, ACT 111 which was amended by ACT 91 which I believe forces us out of state people to continue this bs, not sure who’s still posting on here, I haven’t posted sense 2012… I do have an attorney but not sure he understands all this stuff, I could be totally wrong though. So any ideas on ACT 111/91 has anyone dealt with this issue or challenged it?

    • Terry Brunson says:

      Yes B – This is Terry Brunson

      I deal with this – ACT 111 and 91

      It is under SORNA-1 of 12-20-12 and the reference no is 42 Pa. C.S. 9799.14(b)(23) and (8.2) of ACT 91
      which makes reference back to 42 Pa. C.S. 9799.14

      It is an out of state fight on 14 Amendment of the U.S. Constitution equal protection of procedural substantive due process.

      The PSP megan’s Law section cannot put this together right you would do well to motion the court (the Commonwealth Court) in Harrisburg, Pa. 601 Commonwealth Ave – Suite 2100 – P.O. Box 69185 Harrisburg, Pa. 17120

      And file copy of that to Pa. attorney general office 15th Floor Strawberry Sq. Harrisburg, Pa. 17120 (Certified mail) not U.S. first class.

      The PSP is not too clear on the law on out of state offenders – too many amendments but who cares the U.S. Constitution Article 6 Clause 2 says :
      “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

      The U.S. Constitution Amendment 14 equal protection is your fight – See Case Tommy Lee Jackson v. Commonwealth No. 388 MD 2014

      Hope you get this post you R welcome

  8. Eric says:

    So now what about this, does this supersede the courts judgment, the article seems to think so, and the smug b******* believe this is protecting children.

  9. Terry Brunson says:

    I forgot to bring up Pa. ACT 19 of 14 March 2014 which was applied retroactive to all Magan’s Law 3 people was a legislature attempt to fix Magan’s Law 3 but Coomonwealth v. Neiman 3d 603,605 Pa.2013 struck ML-3 down

    Act 19 can be challengened as ex post facto today becuse of Muniz[.]

    • Terry Brunson says:

      It is not time to get nervous in the service due to a HB 1952. This is only a Bill and it is the birth child of DA Freed . . . . . . . . To under mind a case that he loss called MUNIZ. . . He is taking this fight personal, and will find out that Fighting MUNIZ is over. When Freed filed against the PASC in Cert review on MUNIZ The PASC now becomes Freed’s target.

      The HB1952 bill is an attack on the PASC decision on MUNIZ. But what Free is to dumb to realize is – challenges to any new SO’s law has to come back to the PASC. Muniz was a PASC vote of 5 to 1. That is an indication that the PASC is united on a fair fix of Megan’s law. When and if HB 1952 makes law status. And is challenged and it will be fast. The PASC will add in their decision on that law- WE – NOT ONLY GAVE MUNIZ BUT BEFORE MUNIZ WAS NEIMAN, A.3d 603, 605 (Pa. 2013) WHICH STILL STANDS TO PREVENT UNCONSTITUTIONAL STATE LAWS TO REPEAL EXPIRED LAWS IN PA.

      In Commonwealth v. Farabaugh PASC (Pa. 2015) the PASC spoke on ACT 152 which shot down ML-3. Megan’s Law 3 could not be fixed but lucky for PSP – SORNA came and expired ML-3 and the PASC explained then in 2015: – “a repealing clause expressly repeals a prior statue from effective application of law – where the substitute for the prior statue is itself ineffective where the substitute for the prior statute provided in the repealing statute is unconstitutional and where it does not appear that the legislature would have enacted the repealing clause without providing a substitute for the act repealed [.]”

      Simply put, an UNCONSTITUTIONAL STATUE cannot repeal a former law and the prior statue remains enforceable. Accordingly, ML – 3 loss all its effectiveness as enforceable law on December 20, 2012 at the implementation of SORNA.

      Same for ML-2 shot down as unconstitutional by Commonwealth v. Williams II. Unconstitutional Megan’s Law cannot be reverted back to and be operative law. So ML- 3 is out ML -2 is out, That leaves making a new law (HB 1952) PROBLEM it has a 2017 -2018 date to be applied to people with conviction dates before 2017- 2018 making its application EX POST FACTO

      Do you all out there understand this? I am not a lawyer but every lawyer knows this. . . HB 1952 will not pass a PA. Constitutional muster – You all can relax and keep looking to MUNIZ as your freedom. HB 1952 has dates in it on who they are targeting (after April 22, 1996, but before December 20, 2012, whose period of registration with the Pennsylvania State Police, as described in section 9799.55 (relating to registration), has not expired).

  10. Jim says:


    Thank you for all your information.
    It is much appreciated.

    They just ruled in Super on my case yesterday.

    It was vacated- based on Muniz.
    BUT- and I can’t figure out why- they stated the US constitutional violation in my Superior court decision rather than the state constitutional violation…

    I don’t know why they would do that because the dozen or so I’ve seen recently all used the state claim??

  11. george says:

    I sent an email to my attorney just now asking: The PA Supreme Court found that the PA state law that retroactively extends the duration of registration is against the ex post facto clauses of both the PA state constitution and the US constitution. If SCOTUS agrees to hear the PA case and finds that the retroactive extension does not violate the US constitution, would the retroactive extension still violate the PA constitution and therefore be unlawful in PA?

    My attorney called just now and explained the following. If I understood, she said that there was a split decision (50/50) on the PA Supreme Court as to whether the ex-post facto clause of the PA constitution gives GREATER protection or the SAME protection compared to the US constitution. The Commonwealth is arguing that IF it is the same protection then the SCOTUS will need to determine this issue. My attorney believes this is a very poor argument in view that there is a 50/50 split on this.

    I think she may also have said that some offenders in other counties than mine have orders to be removed from the registration sight, although she is not sure if the PSP is actually removing them. I am following my attorney’s current suggestion to wait until SCOTUS gives a decision. She may later change her suggestion as more information becomes available.

  12. george says:

    I received a letter from my attorney today saying the Commonwealth did file Writ of Certiorari with US Supreme court on 10/13/17. Opposition has 30 days to file a Brief in Opposition. She believes it is highly likely the attorneys in the Muniz case will file one. The Commonwealth has 14 days from the filing of the Brief in Opposition to reply. Bottom line, she says we must continue to wait until the US Supreme Court rules on this issue.

  13. Mike says:

    To Paul, Megan’s law 2 was picture, offense, and zip code (no names or addresses) of the offender. ML3 was when all info went up on the site.

    Here is an interesting turn of events that I cant seem to figure out. Two cases were cited by PASC today under Muniz. Both were granted Allowance of Appeal and at the same time the decision of the decision of the Superior Court was reversed??

    THe links are blow, I was wondering how the PASC is making rulings based on Muniz when they STAYED that ruling waiting on Freed to File a Cert??

    PASC – Commonwealth v. Woodruff, M., Pet. – No. 214 MAL 2016

    Superior Court – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Matthew Woodruff 632 MDA 2015

    PASC – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. JAMES HUNTER SPENCE

    Superior Court – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. JAMES HUNTER SPENCE, 1859 MDA 2015

  14. Mike says:

    For those that were not able to tune into the Pennsylvania Judiciary Committee meeting regarding Muniz, some of the questions that are being asked on this site will be answered and a LOT more new questions are now looming.

    I was able to obtain a copy of the broadcast of Pennsylvania’s Judiciary meeting and upload it to my YouTube Page. I highly encourage everyone that visits this page to spend the hour and watch. This shows to what extremes “our” elected officials and Law Enforcement will go to assert the misnomer concerning RCs.

  15. Mike says:

    Posted my last comment too soon.

    Pa Supreme Court granted the Stay. Bad news as the DA in Cumberland county will probably file with the US Supreme Court and now we wait a minimum of a year to review and if they grant a review, could be another year after that or longer. Very sad news today

    AND NOW, this 5th day of September, 2017, upon review of the Commonwealth’s Application for Stay of Remand of Record Pending United States Supreme Court Review Pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 2572(c)” and Appellant’s Answer thereto, remand of the record in this case is hereby STAYED. The record shall be remanded on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 unless the Prothonotary receives notice prior to that date that the Commonwealth has filed a jurisdictional statement or petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States. See Pa.R.A.P. 2572(c).

    • george says:

      Yesterday, my attorney gave me 2 options: (1) take the wait and see approach– put your case on inactive until the October 17 deadline passes or (2) file a Motion with a Memorandum of Law attached and seek an Order from the Court of Common Pleas that would order you to be removed from the registry. I chose option #1. She then told me that she did see that they filed for a stay, and that Mr. Muniz’s counsel is opposing the stay.

    • george says:

      You say: Pa Supreme Court granted the Stay. Bad news as the DA in Cumberland county will probably file with the US Supreme Court and now we wait a minimum of a year to review and if they grant a review, could be another year after that or longer. Very sad news today

      Question: Say in 3 years this is resolved by the US supreme court and the DA in Cumberland County wins. Will it still stand that the law violates the ex post facto clause of the PA state constitution? If yes, what will happen then?

    • Michael says:

      What does any of that have to do with the fact that the court found that, 1) SORNA’s registration provisions constitute punishment notwithstanding the General Assembly’s identification of the provisions as nonpunitive, and 2) retroactive application of SORNA’s registration provisions also violates the ex post facto clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution?

      Also, considering the DOJ and the Solicitor General have urged the Supreme Court not to accept Michigan’s petition for a Writ of Certiorari, what makes anyone think they will here?


      • Dee says:

        I commented above about reaching out to lawyers and the PSP regarding the future of the Muniz decision. A lawyer contacted my husband yesterday to inform him that PA has been granted a stay (as we all know now) and if we wanted to have a motion filed legally through their office (I’m assuming a Mandamus Petition — my husband didn’t catch if he said it but also didn’t know to ask), then it would cost us $5,000. I don’t know many SOs who might actually have 5k lying around since they’re certainly not all gainfully employed… Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there to any of you who were intending on filing a petition before the Muniz case was determined.

        *However*, having said that, I did some research on the petition for certiorari, which is what PA has to submit to SCOTUS by 10/17/17. 1) There is a possibility that PA will not submit it (unlikely) and
        2) (the more likely option) SCOTUS only approves 1% of cert petitions that they receive. Michael, based on what you said above about Michigan, I am more confident now that SCOTUS will deny the cert petition. I just don’t know how long that process will take to review and deny.
        There is also option 3) SCOTUS will take a long time to review PA cert petition and approve it and then we’ll all be tied up in legal limbo for who knows how long.

        • Michael says:

          Writ of mandamus, or Action in Mandamus, would be what an attorney would file. $5,000 seems high. It would be well worth it to shop around. Calling Joseph A. Ratasiewicz, the attorney for Jackson, might be a good start. That being said, you don’t need an attorney. You have the option of filing pro se. As long as you follow the rules, courts typically overlook the fact that pro se petitioners aren’t legal scholars.

          Personally, I don’t see the DOJ or the Solicitor General urging SCOTUS to accept the petition, and for the same reason both recommended the court not take up the Michigan case. I also don’t know that it would effect the PA Supreme Courts ruling where the PA Constitution is concerned.


    • george says:

      From everything I read here, it is clear that regardless of what the US Supreme Court decides, the PA state law that retroactively extends the duration of registration is against the ex post facto clause of the PA state constitution and is therefore unlawful in PA. I may be misunderstanding the significance of the STAY and the PA Supreme Court ruling on ex post facto. Here are my questions:

      1) Why did the PA Supreme Court choose to comment on the ex post facto clause of the US constitution?
      2) If the outcome of the US Supreme Court decision on this matter has no impact on state law, why did the PA Supreme Court agree to the STAY?
      3) Is it likely that the STAY will remain in effect until the US Supreme Court makes a final decision on the matter?

      Thank you.

    • Jim says:

      did anything happen today or did the deadline pass with no further action?

  16. Mike says:

    Below is the exact letter that my attorney received from the PSP. Letter was sent to them on August 1 2017, they replied August 30, 2017.

    The way that I see it and the rest of the lawyers I have spoken, Muniz is the law of the Land. This was also called out by Justice Mundy, who was a No vote on Muniz (if she had heard the case).

    At this point, I think that anyone that has the means, needs to file a Mandamus Petition with the Commonwealth Court and start citing damages! Any lifetime offenders that should be off the registry have a great claim to annual income until you are ~80 years old, in many cases for lack of employment opportunities.

    George, even $20k * 21 years is $420,000 in damages!!

    Also below is the requirements that need to be submitted for a Mandamus.

    Dear Attorney’s Name,

    This letter is in response to your recent inquiry of (My Name), regarding your client’s sexual offender registration status following Commonwealth v. Muniz 47 MAP 2016. The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP)is aware of the case and is reviewing its impact on the registry.

    The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office has filed for a stay of the matter in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and has ninety days to file a Petition for Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. If necessary, once the Muniz case is Final, the Pennsylvania State Police will take all the appropriate actions to review the status of your client and any other offender potentially impacted by this decision, in as timely a manner as circumstances allow.

    Sgt. O.E. Rowles
    Megan’s Law Section

    FYI, this is all you need to provide for a Mandamus filing. The PSP MUST be listed as the or a defendant.

    (1) the name and description of the plaintiff and defendant;
    (2) the facts upon which plaintiff relies for the relief sought;
    (3) the act or duty the defendant is required to perform and the refusal to perform it;
    (4) the interest of the plaintiff in the result;
    (5) the damages, if any;
    (6) the want of any other adequate remedy at law;
    (7) a prayer for the entry of a judgment against the defendant commanding that the defendant perform the act or duty required to be performed and for damages, if any, and costs.

  17. Brian says:

    Ok I have read some things that are not really making sense. Anyway I moved to Pa in 1999, I was convicted in Colorado in 1997 served 3 years probation satisfied probation terms and was released from probation, I was not required to register in Pa until a detective showed up at my door in 2002 stating I had to register, I honestly didn’t know I was ever required to register even when I lived in Colorado. I was ordered to register for 10 years by the PSP and like everyone else SORNA came along and I was ordered to do 25 year registration. My question is which I’m pretty sure I am due relief , am I due relief considering I wasn’t on probation or parol or incarcerated on 12/20/2012?

    • Michael says:

      Brian ~

      SORNA is applicable to anyone who is or was incarcerated, on probation or parole, or was convicted of a crime requiring registration AFTER the effective date of the statute.

      There is a hitch, apparently. My understanding is, if you were already registering, but had not completed your period of registration by the effective date of the law, then SORNA would be applicable.

      In my case, the date of the conviction was officially 1999 and would have required 10 years of registration. I moved down south in 2000 and began registering there. By 12/20/2012, I had already registered for 12 years — 2 years longer than PA required. I moved back to PA on 7/3. PSP has in the past attempted to force people who moved to PA to register because they had not completed a period of registration in PA. There are two things on my side there: 1) my conviction was in PA, so they have to use the PA registration requirement, and 2) On 7/2016 the Commonwealth court in Harrisburg held that not giving credit for time on another registry violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which means it also violates the Equal Protection Clause of PA’s Constitution because the provision is analyzed under the same standards used by SCOTUS. The courth also eluded that no giving credit violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

      You might want to consult an attorney if you had not registered 10 years by 12/20/2012.


  18. So Tired says:

    Several weeks ago my attorney sent a letter to the PSP requested that I be removed from the registry due to the Muniz ruling (I was sentenced in 2004). Today my attorney sent me the following message:

    “Cumberland County filed for a stay and has 90 days to file a Petition for Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. Therefore, all Megan’s Law matters are on hold until then.”

    Has anyone else experienced or been told this?

    • george says:

      About a week ago I believe my attorney sent a letter to the PSP requesting that I be removed. I was sentenced in 2005. I have not talked to my attorney since our initial talk a couple weeks ago but she told me that after about 3 weeks (as specified in the letter to the PSP), she would file a writ of Mandamus, an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties. After this, the 3rd step she would do is appeal to the common court. As a side note: I retired in 2015 after 29 years of service with my employer. I am now age 59. I applied for another job a few weeks ago and was turned down a few days ago because I am a registered sex offender and the employer has a child care on site. I was told to reapply after my name is removed.

      • Dee says:

        So Tired and George:

        My husband and I are attempting to get his name removed from the list as he was convicted in 2004 and should have been removed in 2014… that is, until SORNA came along. We just sent a letter directly to the PSP asking when/if they plan to remove names and we also have been reaching out to lawyers to no avail. I was wondering: how much is your attorney charging you to file the motion/writ of Mandamus to get you removed?

        George, I’m sorry to hear that you were turned down for a job. My husband is currently working (has been working almost five years continuously, which is a near impossibility for SOs) but has a good opportunity for possibly two other jobs at a higher pay. We were hoping that this would all coincide and he would be off the list before going on an interview. My only hope is that they don’t ask if he has a criminal record and that they don’t look at the list (or aren’t notified) if he starts working because his name will pop up due to the fact that he will have to register his work address. He has already put in over three years more than what he should have and it’s very frustrating, so I completely understand your situation!! George, I hope that you have a speedy removal and can start working again and feeling productive. Please be sure to update us on the process with your lawyer.

  19. Meghan Towers says:

    Hi, I have a family member who got stuck in this situation, charges were brought against him originally in October of 2010 of a reported incident that happened in July of 2010. However because of the slow court system, his original plea deal would have had him at 10 years but then when the case got continued again into 2013, they amended his deal to the 15 years due to SORNA. He was finally sentenced August of 2013 and started his 9 month sentence that September. Some sites I read state you must’ve been convicted prior to Dec 2012 but others say that if your case was in process/the offense and charges were prior to Dec 2012 that also counts as unconstitutional in the offenders favor. Could you please clarify if that means that someone who was charged by Dec 2012 but not yet convicted/sentenced until after that would be able to be knocked from 15 down to 10 years?

  20. Jim says:

    New Pa. Superior court ruling citing Muniz.

  21. Mike says:


    Freed file for a “Application to Stay Remand” on August 9.

    BUT, on August 16th, the following Mandamus request was reversed by way of the decision in Muniz. Even though there has been no decision on the request for a stay, I tend to doubt that the PASC would reverse a decision and than Stay the deciding case?

    I was particularly interested in Mundy’s concurring opinion. Even though she did not participate in Muniz, which is good because she was a NO, she did agree that assertion of th Muniz decision as it relates to Ex Post Facto and that the Muniz decision should be and can be used as a vehicle to get ex-offenders relief from the increase in time on the registry as it relates to AWA.

    Here are the rulings.

    PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, – Affirmed-Reversed – 10321130522850512.pdf?cb=1 Statement – Affirmed-Reversed – 10321130522850693.pdf?cb=1 Statement – Affirmed-Reversed – 10321130522850710.pdf?cb=1

  22. Paul says:

    How does D.A. Freed s appeal to SCOUS on the PASC ruling on the US constitutionality of SORNA, Muniz, have the ability to stay the PSP from giving relief to those effected by SORNA 2012, if the state constitution was found to be in violation by application of PA SORNA 2012 to those convicted prior, and cant be appealed?

    Does anyone have a contact at the defender association of Philly to see what PSP is going to do? I believe they have had enough time to get things rolling.

  23. Ellie says:

    First.. Jim if your reading this. My husband and I moved here he had an Ohio conviction in 2009. Tier 1 misdimenaor offense ( his girlfriend at time was found to be a minor)how can we go about asking Ohio for relief. Would we petition in the court that convicted him? … Also would this retroactivity apply to him. He got papers stating he was a tier 1. We moved here to PA this year..after a week or so we get a paper stating he is now a tier 2 and required to register for an additional 25 years. We are in SW PA. And he’s having a hard time even finding work.since his conviction we have been married for almost 7 years and have 3children. Ohio was easy living there because everyone knew the real situation.. we moved to NY which he was able to update information yearly by mail. And wasn’t plastered online. He held a decent job in NY but we moved to PA to be near family . I am beginning to regret our decision but we can not move because we bought a house and we have to live here for at least a year.. I hope he can be taken off the PA registry and we can begin to live anormal life for once

  24. J Het says:

    Unbelievable ! After all these years. Even though I technically registered, I never did make it to the list because of multiple reasons (the CMM Misdemeanor VS. Felony one being the most frustrating). I couldn’t be happier to see that so many people that wrongfully needed to register will finally see justice. What about all the damage that has been done though? It literally makes my blood boil when I think about all the lives that this has ruined because the lazy DA’s, PO’s, etc. somehow, some way RIDICULOUSLY thought that having to register as a sex offender is SOMEHOW not punitive. Not all situations involved poor little Johnny or Suzie being mentally scarred for life. The very fact that one is a RSO automatically means (to many) that the person brutally raped a 4 year old within an inch of death. Though this happens (not sure who wouldn’t be sickened by that) there are other situations where things happened, the pieces were picked up and both parties moved on. Shame on our “Justice” system for dragging this out for almost 5 years!

  25. S says:

    Does this decision mean if you where convicted and sentenced before Megan’s Law was originally enacted in PA, but was made to register upon parole or release, that you are no longer required to register?

    • Michael says:

      SORNA in Pennsylvania is applicable to anyone who is or was under incarceration, probation or parole, or was otherwise subject to the registration requirements of the statute after its effective date of 12/20/2012. So, if you were sentenced prior to December 20, 2012 OR the alleged offense occurred prior to December 20, 2012 this decision applies to you. The courts decision does NOT invalidate the current registration regime under SORNA for those convicted ON or AFTER December 20, 2012.

  26. J says:

    Can someone enlighten me as to how this DA can appeal this decision- given that supposedly because the Pa. Supreme Court also found Sorna violates the Pa. constitution as well as the federal constitution?

    I was under the impression that to do so is of no use (that the state violation of the constitution stands regardless)…
    Is this just sour grapes? Will these DA’s never accept the fact that justice and fair play sometimes wins?

  27. Michael says:

    If you were sentenced prior to December 20, 2012, this applies to you. You can either 1.) wait for the Attorney General’s Office to issue a formal opinion to the Pennsylvania State Police to remove offenders. PSP will have to search the database to determine who was sentenced prior to December 20, 2012 and was still on probation, supervision, or registration for a Megan’s Law offense. There are a lot of people impacted, so the process will likely take months. Or 2.) file an Action in Mandamus [Writ of Mandamus] against the Pennsylvania State Police in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. It was what was required in Tommy Lee Jackson v. Commonwealth [] to force the PSP to remove Jackson from the registry.

    • Jim says:

      so basically, PA threw a provision in SORNA that says if you are an out-of-state offender and you register in PA that it resets the clock on your registration time and you get no credit for years already completed? how is that fair? i was given a 10 yr time period in ohio and was given a judgment order from ohio in 2014 that says my registration time had been completed. i moved to pa in 2011 and had 2 more years to go when SORNA was enacted. so if i read this correctly then since i registered when megans law III was in effect, i should receive the years credit i had and have been removed in 2014 when i was given the letter of relief from ohio.

  28. Thomas Donnelly says:

    So I was sentence in 2008 and when I finished my sentence after 4 years, I then registered with the PA State Police. At that time (June 2013), I was placed on Tier 2 with 25 years registration. I don’t know how this will affect me since I didn’t register until after I came out of prison. Any help?

  29. Todd Smith says:

    I took a jury trial and was found guilty of IDSI in 1990. I was sentenced to 7 to 15 years and was forced by PA state parole to do the whole 15 years. I got out in 2004 and had to register once a year for 10 years even though there was no such thing as Meagans Law when I was sentenced. Since then, I am now forced to register for life and I must do so 4 times a year. I don’t have money for an attorney but would like to fight this. Any advise?

  30. Doug says:

    I am a RSO charged in 2003. Required 10 yr probation. After SORNA Was implemented in 2012, I was classified as Tier 2, required to register with the state police semi annually for 25 yrs. . Since the July 19 ruling finding SORNA punitive, I will no longer be subject to the retroactive registration. Am I required to legally to sign up on my next registration date in August? I did contact the “considered” attorney in south western PA and his fee was $5000.00 to file a motion to expedite this…. More than I can afford. Please advise. Thanks

  31. Jim says:

    so correct me if i am wrong but what this pretty much means is that whatever your tier or status was before SORNA was enacted in dec. ’12, the PSP now by law and judgement order have to return those individuals to those statuses even if it means said people will now be removed from the registry.

    for me personally i moved into pa in oct of 2011 and was placed on tier 1 yearly registration. when SORNA was enacted i was moved to tier 3 lifetime because of the 2 or more rule. when the 2 or more thing was struck down last yr i moved down to tier 2 instead of back to tier 1 because they are using something that was in the police report that was ultimately dismissed in my plea deal. i was formally removed from registering by the judge in my case in ohio in 2014 and i have a signed letter of judgment release from her stating i have completed my required registering. i have been told a few times that the PSP upon determining an out of state offender’s tier that they not only look at the judgement but also everything in the case and they saw that i was charged with statutory sexual assault of a minor by the arresting officers.

    that charge was dismissed in court because there was no evidence because it didnt happen and i was given 2 counts of attempted importuning which is basically talking to a person online is how ohio categorizes it.

    so PSP in their infinite wisdom basically have me registering here in pa under tier 2 for that dismissed charge which is even clearly layed out in the judgement order where it says that specific charge is not relevant to my sentencing. so i dont understand how the PSP can classify me for something i was never sentenced for just because its in the police report.

    sorry for the rant. so basically as i said do they now by law have to return me to what i was registered as before SORNA was enacted or do you think they will find some sleazy slimy way to keep me as a tier 2 just because? if they are forced to return my status to what it was in 2011 when they first classified me then that means i would be removed from registering since my 10 years has been up for 3 years already.

    also, is this judgment final? can the state appeal the decision and further draw out the process there-by delaying the implimentation?

  32. J says:

    Thank God! Now that is a Just decision! Of course it was Punitive!

  33. Eric says:

    I was originally only supposed to register for 10 years, then the Dec 2012 SORNA came out and was put on Tier II, 25 years, then I got dropped down to Tier I recently 15, and I should be off in 2018. My conviction was military and I was sentenced on 9/26/2001, got out in 2002 of dec and started my registration in January 2003. When I got out of prison, I was only supposed to register for 10 years and would have ended in 2013 some time, what I want to know is, does this effect me in any way, and if so what can I do about it?

  34. Dominic J Galliani says:

    If this is punitive than does this mean that all sex offender’s will no longer be required to register, attend counseling for life, or be subject to polygraph testing?

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