Today’s question is my own: Did the legislature pass new law that has mandatory minimums for Megan’s Law related crimes?
I was in court yesterday doing a preliminary hearing in a potential Megan’s Law related case in Philadelphia. The majority of those cases are all in one courtroom. As I was waiting for the judge to appear, I saw an Assistant District Attorney walk in who is a bit more experienced and if not assigned to preliminary hearings. After that ADA checked-in, I said to them, “Why are you here?” They told me that there was a preliminary hearing listed that had the 25-50 Megan’s Law mando and they were specially assigned. I asked what mando?
In a nut shell, it you have been previously convicted of any offense that requires you to register under Megan’s Law at the time of any new offense that requires you to register under Megan’s Law, your case holds a mandatory minimum of 25-50. If it is the third, life.
My only questions is how the sentence is imposed if the statutory maximum is less then 25-50, or life respectively? Perhaps the PA Supremes will help me on this as time goes by. Clearly, this seems inconsistent as a matter of law and is probably unconstitutional to boot. However based on Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. ___ (2008), decided just this week, I would guess that at least four of the nine Federal Supreme Court Justices would say this type of sentencing is absolutely fine.
I have attached the relevant statutes for your reference. The first is the new mando statute. The second is the statute of the require offenses under the new mando.
§ 9718.2. Sentences for sex offenders
(a) MANDATORY SENTENCE.–
(1) Any person who is convicted in any court of this Commonwealth of an offense set forth in section 9795.1(a) or (b) (relating to registration) shall, if at the time of the commission of the current offense the person had previously been convicted of an offense set forth in section 9795.1(a) or (b) or an equivalent crime under the laws of this Commonwealth in effect at the time of the commission of that offense or an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, be sentenced to a minimum sentence of at least 25 years of total confinement, notwithstanding any other provision of this title or other statute to the contrary. Upon such conviction, the court shall give the person oral and written notice of the penalties under paragraph (2) for a third conviction. Failure to provide such notice shall not render the offender ineligible to be sentenced under paragraph (2).
(2) Where the person had at the time of the commission of the current offense previously been convicted of two or more offenses arising from separate criminal transactions set forth in section 9795.1(a) or (b) or equivalent crimes under the laws of this Commonwealth in effect at the time of the commission of the offense or equivalent crimes in another jurisdiction, the person shall be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment, notwithstanding any other provision of this title or other statute to the contrary. Proof that the offender received notice of or otherwise knew or should have known of the penalties under this paragraph shall not be required.
(b) MANDATORY MAXIMUM.– An offender sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence under this section shall be sentenced to a maximum sentence equal to twice the mandatory minimum sentence, notwithstanding 18 Pa.C.S. § 1103 (relating to sentence of imprisonment for felony) or any other provision of this title or other statute to the contrary.
(c) PROOF OF SENTENCING.– The provisions of this section shall not be an element of the crime, and notice thereof to the defendant shall not be required prior to conviction, but reasonable notice of the Commonwealth’s intention to proceed under this section shall be provided after conviction and before sentencing. The applicability of this section shall be determined at sentencing. The sentencing court, prior to imposing sentence on an offender under subsection (a), shall have a complete record of the previous convictions of the offender, copies of which shall be furnished to the offender. If the offender or the attorney for the Commonwealth contests the accuracy of the record, the court shall schedule a hearing and direct the offender and the attorney for the Commonwealth to submit evidence regarding the previous convictions of the offender. The court shall then determine, by a preponderance of the evidence, the previous convictions of the offender and, if this section is applicable, shall impose sentence in accordance with this section. Should a previous conviction be vacated and an acquittal or final discharge entered subsequent to imposition of sentence under this section, the offender shall have the right to petition the sentencing court for reconsideration of sentence if this section would not have been applicable except for the conviction which was vacated.
(d) AUTHORITY OF COURT IN SENTENCING.– Notice of the application of this section shall be provided to the defendant before trial. If the notice is given, there shall be no authority in any court to impose on an offender to which this section is applicable any lesser sentence than provided for in subsections (a) and (b) or to place the offender on probation or to suspend sentence. Nothing in this section shall prevent the sentencing court from imposing a sentence greater than that provided in this section. Sentencing guidelines promulgated by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing shall not supersede the mandatory sentences provided in this section.
(e) APPEAL BY COMMONWEALTH.– If a sentencing court shall refuse to apply this section where applicable, the Commonwealth shall have the right to appellate review of the action of the sentencing court. The appellate court shall vacate the sentence and remand the case to the sentencing court for the imposition of a sentence in accordance with this section if it finds that the sentence was imposed in violation of this section.
§ 9795.1. Registration
(a) TEN-YEAR REGISTRATION.– The following individuals shall be required to register with the Pennsylvania State Police for a period of ten years:
(1) Individuals convicted of any of the following offenses:
18 Pa.C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping) where the victim is a
18 Pa.C.S. § 2910 (relating to luring a child into a motor vehicle).
18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2 (relating to institutional sexual assault).
18 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault) where the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.
18 Pa.C.S. § 4302 (relating to incest) where the victim is 12 years of age or older but under 18 years of age.
18 Pa.C.S. § 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses) where the actor promotes the prostitution of a minor.
18 Pa.C.S. § 5903(a)(3), (4), (5) or (6) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances) where the victim is a minor.
18 Pa.C.S. § 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children).
18 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).
18 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children).
(2) Individuals convicted of an attempt to commit any of the offenses under paragraph (1) or subsection (b)(2).
(3) Individuals currently residing in this Commonwealth who have been convicted of offenses similar to the crimes cited in paragraphs (1) and (2) under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation.
(b) LIFETIME REGISTRATION.– The following individuals shall be subject to lifetime registration:
(1) An individual with two or more convictions of any of the offenses set forth in subsection (a).
(2) Individuals convicted of any of the following offenses:
18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape).
18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).
18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).
18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).
18 Pa.C.S. § 4302 (relating to incest) when the victim is under 12 years of age.
(3) Sexually violent predators.
(4) Individuals currently residing in this Commonwealth who have been convicted of offenses similar to the crimes cited in paragraph (2) under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation.
(c) NATURAL DISASTER.– The occurrence of a natural disaster or other event requiring evacuation of residences shall not relieve an individual of the duty to register or any other duty imposed by this chapter.