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New Megan’s Law Casts a Wider Net

A man interferes with his wife’s visitation rights, a teenage girl has sex with her younger boyfriend, and an amateur photographer takes pictures of young girls in the park. Will these people have to register under the new Megan’s Law that just went into effect in Pennsylvania? The answers can be frightening.

The new law revamps the state’s previous Megan’s Law. It lists the types of offenses that require registration with the state police as part of the sex offender registry. The law adds 11 new charges that require registration, orders some juvenile offenders to register and covers out-of-state offenders as well.

Under the old law, offenders had to register for a period of either 10 years or life. The new law creates three tiers of offenders with registration requirements of 15 years, 25 years or life. This could drastically affect one’s decision of whether to plead guilty or fight the charges.

The new law may require those convicted of certain crimes to register as sex offenders even though they had already completed the terms of their plea agreements or sentences for past crimes. It may also extend the registration periods for many who are no longer serving time. Whether this is constitutional is already a matter of legal debate.

The requirements of Megan’s Law are harsh. If you are convicted of a sex crime, even if it is not related to traditional notions of sex, you might be required to register as a sex offender and your photo and address can be posted online. It is very important to have a qualified and experienced lawyer to help you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system and this new law.

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