SORNA, or the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, has been ruled unconstitutional by a Pennsylvania court based on their findings that it violates the constitutional right to reputation. According to an article by the Florida Action Committee, a non-profit advocacy organization for registered sex offenders, this is the first time that a court has ruled on a SORNA case using scientific and academic studies.
Right to Reputation
Article 1, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees the right to protect one's reputation. The PA court found that SORNA violates this clause because registering as a sex offender and notifying the relevant parties of the conviction harms the offender's reputation. SORNA requirements mean convicted sex offenders would have difficulty finding housing and employment—and thus establishing themselves financially—and may experience difficulties with interpersonal relationships.
Housing, employment, and interpersonal relationships are considered the main three factors in a convicted felon's successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The Commonwealth believes that sex offenders will face enough stigma from public records alone, and that to further make public their status essentially marks them with a “scarlet letter.”
Low Rates of Re-offense
The notion that most sexual offenders are likely to continue to be sexually violent has been disproven, and most offenders rehabilitate, given the opportunity to do so. Persons convicted of sexual violence are no more likely to commit the same crime again than persons convicted of any other kind of crime. Yet SORNA, the Pennsylvania court found, continues to publicize and therefore punish offenders long after the term of their punishment has ended.
Protect Yourself and Others
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act can have serious implications for individuals convicted of this crime. The consequences can include hefty fines and significant jail time, and collateral damage is likely as well. Registering as a sex offender can determine where you can legally live, where you can work, and who you can be around—and this is not to mention the humiliation that comes with such an offense. The public record mandated by SORNA permanently marks convicted individuals as sex offenders, influencing the way they're perceived by neighbors, coworkers, employers, and friends, years and decades after the crime was committed and the punishment served, regardless of rehabilitation status.
What to Do if You Are Accused of Sexual Violence
If you are accused of a sex crime, remember that you have the right to representation and a sound defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an expert on criminal defense, and he can help you to recognize your rights and ensure that those rights are being protected. We are here to protect you and your reputation, so contact the Lento Law Firm by scheduling a consultation online or by calling 888-535-3686 today.