While sex offenders do not have to personally notify their neighbors about their status, state authorities must inform them because of Megan’s Law, a federal statute requiring the release of information to protect the public.
Being on the sex offender registry means that the public can find out if you are a sex offender, and you must register if you move to Pennsylvania. Failure to do so can result in criminal prosecution. If you are facing criminal prosecution, our criminal defense lawyer can help.
What Is Megan’s Law?
Megan’s Law is a federal law that requires law enforcement to notify the community if a sex offender is living there. The name of the law refers to the 1994 murder of Megan Nicole Kanka, whose family was unaware that a violent sex offender was living across the street from their New Jersey home.
Sex offenders must register with various entities, including any jurisdiction where they reside. Law enforcement then must make this information public to the community.
In Pennsylvania, sex offenders must register their name or change of name, their address, location of employment, whether they are a student at a school, phone numbers, email addresses, license plate numbers, and any professional licenses they hold. This is outlined by the Pennsylvania State Police. They must also report to a Registration or Verification site as many times a year as required depending on their sex offender tier or classification.
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What Is the Penalty for Failing To Register or Report?
Failing to register as a sex offender can have devastating consequences for you and your family, especially since it’s difficult to hide your status because of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Depending on the seriousness of your original conviction, you could face a first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony charge for failing to register.
If a sex offender fails to report in person for a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual verification, they are subject to prosecution.
A criminal defense attorney from our firm can represent you in court if you face prosecution for failing to register or report.
Does a Sex Offender Have to Notify Their Employer?
Unless your probation or parole officer requires you to do so or if you still receive treatment as part of your status as a sex offender, you have no obligation to inform your employer. However, you will have to provide employment information when you register.
Employers can ask if you have any prior criminal convictions. They may even perform a background check and find out that way.
Philadelphia employers cannot ask about criminal convictions on job applications because of the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance. This ordinance does not apply to employers outside Philadelphia.
Can a Sex Offender Attend Church?
Sex offenders can attend church if the court allows it. Church leaders may also prohibit you from attending. However, should they welcome you, be aware that you will likely not be able to transport minors. You also likely won’t be able to attend functions or teach classes with teens and children. They could also require you to have a chaperone while on church grounds.
In addition, Pennsylvania law does not restrict where a sex offender can reside.
Does the Law Apply to All Sex Offenders Equally?
Depending on your sex offender status, the law could apply more severe restrictions. For instance, non-violent sex offenders might be able to end their registration requirements after 15 years while violent sex offenders will likely be on the registry for life.
Violent Sex Offender Categories
- Sexually violent predators have a mental abnormality or a personality disorder making them more likely to commit offenses. A court determines if a sex offender falls into this category.
- Sexually violent delinquent children are juveniles who still have to register. Typically, sexually violent delinquent children are required to register for life.
Consult With a Lawyer From Our Firm About Your Case Today
It can be tough for sex offenders to continue living a normal life due to all of the restrictions they must follow. Your reputation, your family, your finances, and your freedom are all at stake. A criminal defense lawyer from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC is ready to help you.
We can defend you in court if you face charges that would require you to register as a sex offender. If you want to learn more about how sex offenders have to notify their neighbors, contact our office. We can answer your questions during a free consultation when you call us.