Megan's Law History

Megan's Law in Pennsylvania has been enacted, repealed, re-enacted and subsequently amended almost yearly since 1995. Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge first approached sex offender issues during the 1995 Special Session on Crime. During this session, legislation was introduced that intended to identify sex offenders who meet the legal definition of a sexually violent predator and allow the sentencing court to impose a life sentence for these offenders; create a sex offender registry with the Pennsylvania State Police; and notify communities when offenders designated by the court as sexually violent predators move into their neighborhood.

 

On October 21, 1995, Governor Ridge signed into law Act 24 of 1995, which became effective on April 21, 1996. Act 46 of 1996 amended Act 24 of 1995 and became effective on May 22, 1996. It was repealed and in a decision filed October 6, 1998 in Appellee v. Edward James Hayle, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania found portions of "Megan's Law" to be unconstitutional. 

 

On June 30, 1999, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Commonwealth v. Williams, struck down all relevant provisions of the Act relating to sexually violent predators, with one dissenting opinion. In a second ruling also released on June 30, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Commonwealth v. Gaffney, unanimously upheld the Pennsylvania Superior Court's ruling that the registration portion of the Act was constitutional. Re-enactment (or Megan's Law II)The Pennsylvania Legislature unanimously re-enacted Megan's Law and on May 10, 2000, the Governor signed into law Act 18 of 2000.  

 

This law became effective on July 8, 2000.  Amendments Act 113 of 2000 amended Act 18 of 2000 by adding a new offense, sexual exploitation of children. Pursuant to statute, this amendment became effective February 18, 2001.  On November 24, 2004, Governor Edward Rendell signed into law Act 152 of 2004, which made significant changes to Megan's Law. Most notably, information on all registered sex offenders is now available to the public through the Internet. Additionally, two new crimes were added to the list of offenses for which registration, and internet notification, is required under Megan’s Law: Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle (18 Pa. C.S. § 2910) and Institutional Sexual Assault (18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.2). Act 98 of 2008, which became effective on December 8, 2008, also resulted in the following amendments to Megan’s Law. 

 

10 Year Registration Offenses: Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle or Structure (18 Pa. C.S. § 2910) Offenders convicted of an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the offenses under 10-year registration or lifetime registration • Offenders convicted in jurisdictions outside the Commonwealth of an equivalent offense listed under the 10-year registration where the conviction occurred under a former law of the Commonwealth, in another state, territory, Federal court, the District of Columbia, or where the offender was sentenced by court martial, or where the offender was required to register under a sexual offender statute in the jurisdiction where the offender was convicted, and the offender:    

  • Resides in the Commonwealth; or
  • Is employed or carries on a vocation in the Commonwealth; or
  • Is a student in the Commonwealth.


Lifetime Registration Offenses: Offenders convicted in jurisdictions outside the Commonwealth of an equivalent offense listed under the 10-year registration where the conviction occurred under a former law of the Commonwealth, in another state, territory, Federal court, the District of Columbia, or where the offender was sentenced by court martial, or where the offender was required to register under a sexual offender statute in the jurisdiction where the offender was convicted, and the offender:  

  • Resides in the Commonwealth; or  
  • Is employed or carries on a vocation in the Commonwealth; or  
  • Is a student in the Commonwealth.

 

Juvenile Sex Offender Involuntary Civil Commitment: On August 14, 2003, Governor Edward Rendell signed into law Act 21 of 2003, which added a new mandate for the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board. Act 21, which became effective on February 10, 2004, requires the SOAB to assess certain juvenile sex offenders aging out of the juvenile justice system for involuntary commitment., where certain adolescent sex offenders aging out of the juvenile justice system were to be considered for involuntary civil commitment.  Act 21 became effective on February 10, 2004.

Megans Law in PA 4 15 2010.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [171.7 KB]