Most people know that Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registry is available to the public online. Thanks to Megan’s Law, law enforcement authorities are required to identify sex offenders to the general public, tracking their whereabouts to protect individuals from victimization within their community. But with this information accessible to anyone at any time, are sex offenders required to notify their neighbors and employers of their criminal history directly? We’ll explain the disclosure requirements for your community and employment.
What Community Disclosure is Required for Sex Offenders?
Megan’s Law refers to a collection of laws that mandate the notification of sex offenders in a particular community to the people that live there. This registry was designed to help provide the public and area law enforcement with the information they need to develop constructive plans, safety programs and more to protect their local residents.
In Pennsylvania, the state categorizes registrants in two ways: sexual offenders or sexually violent predators. Sexually violent predators are offenders who “have a [court-determined] abnormality or personality disorder that makes that person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.” Unlike other sexual offenders who may be released from registration requirements after a minimum of 15 years, offenders designated as sexually violent must register for life.
These offenders are also subject to “active community notification.” While this requires no action from the offender himself, local law enforcement authorities are obligated to post notification flyers within the community in which the offender lives.
What are Sex Offenders Required to Disclose to Employers?
Here’s the short answer: If you are still on probation, parole or in treatment, your probation/parole officer or treatment provider may require you to inform your employer. If you are not under any type of supervision, there is no legal obligation requiring you to disclose this information.
However, in many cities across Pennsylvania, employers are generally permitted to ask about criminal convictions on their job applications. While offenders must answer truthfully, several other state and federal laws are in place to protect against hiring discrimination. One of these laws is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, requiring employers to consider how the offense relates to the functions of the actual job, as well as the severity of the offense and how long ago it occurred. If the conviction does not impact the applicant’s ability to adequately and safely perform the tasks of the job, they cannot reject that applicant solely on the basis of their criminal record.
If you’re living or working in Philadelphia, the rules are a little different. As a result of the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance, employers are prohibited from asking about criminal records on job applications all together. This statute, also known as the “Ban the Box” Ordinance, applies to all employers with at least 10 employees, except for criminal justice agencies (ie. police departments).
If you or someone you know was convicted of a sex crime in Pennsylvania, you’ll want an experienced criminal defense attorney guiding you through the process. Contact us for a legal consultation to discuss what is required of you legally and the recommended next steps to help you move on.Read More
It’s not unusual two young adults or teens to become sexually active, but an adult molesting a child is reprehensible. A distinction between the two situations seems obvious, but in many states across the US, there’s a fine line legally between a mutual decision and abusive actions. In many cases, Romeo and Juliet Laws reduce or eliminate the penalty of statutory offenses. If you or someone you know have been accused of statutory sexual assault or rape, here’s a better understanding of Romeo and Juliet laws in Pennsylvania.
What are Romeo and Juliet Laws?
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the epic love between two young protagonists has a tragic ending. But in our justice system, Romeo and Juliet laws were created as an exception to a serious criminal offense to help prevent a dreadful outcome for young star crossed lovers in real life.
By definition, Romeo and Juliet laws are provisions to statutory laws that pertain to individuals under the age of consent who engage in sexual intercourse when there is a minor age difference. Each state law has a specific age difference permitted, as well as its own determination of which criminal charges apply to each situation.
In order to understand these provisions, it’s important to understand the ground rules of statutory law. In Pennsylvania, the age of consent, or legal age in which an individual can agree to sexual intercourse, is 16 years old. Anyone under that age is considered a minor, while anyone 18 years of age or older is considered an adult is considered.
Statutory laws were created on the premise that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. Reversely, Romeo and Juliet laws were designed to protect the relationships of minors and adults who are less than four years apart. For example, a high school senior and a high school sophomore who are intimately involved bridge the age of consent but are safeguarded within a 3-year age gap. However, if the minor is under the age of 13, the older individual will be charged with statutory rape regardless of their age. So even a 14 year old who has a sexual relationship with 12 year old is in violation of this law.
What are the Penalties for Statutory Sexual Assault and Rape?
Penalties for Statutory Sexual Assault and Rape will vary based on the specific circumstances, but below is a general guideline of what to expect.
Statutory Rape- Sexual intercourse with a minor under 13 years old is considered a first degree felony and could involve up to a $25,000 fine, 40 years in prison, or both.
Statutory Sexual Assault- Sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor, ages 13-15, when:
- The defendant is between 4 and 10 years older than the victim (second degree felony)
- The defendant is at least 11 years older than the victim (first degree felony)
A first degree conviction can result in up to a $25,000 fine, 20 years of prison, or both.
When it comes to statutory offenses, there’s little distinction between an innocent relationship and a reprehensible crime. If you’re involved in a statutory sexual assault or rape conviction, it’s important you have an experienced sex offense attorney with a full understanding of Romeo and Juliet laws fighting for you. Contact our team of Philadelphia lawyers to schedule a consultation today.Read More