Williams insists he was under no such mandate when he was sentenced in for sexually assaulting a year-old girl, for which he spent a decade in prison. Sex offender registration is a punishment," Marcus said. Muniz fled the state before sentencing and wasn't apprehended until , when he was arrested in Rhode Island. By increasing the years of registration, requiring routine in-person appearances before state police and publishing more information about an offender online, the rules became punitive in nature, he wrote. It expanded the number of crimes that require someone to register as a sex offender or face arrest, and lengthened the amount of time most must do so.
Given the ruling, those people are entitled to relief, he said. That forced a raft of ex-convicts to register for the first time, or to register for longer than they would otherwise have. Marcus estimated that 4, to 4, offenders were retroactively forced to register for longer periods of time under the law. And this week, the state Supreme Court agreed, in a closely watched ruling that will have sweeping impact. Muniz, who was convicted in of indecent assault for groping a year-old girl. Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said his office is evaluating the scope of the ruling and its impact on local cases. Northampton County Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Kulik predicted the ruling will affect "a number of people" prosecuted at the courthouse in Easton, though she said exactly how many is unknown. Before, registration was either for 10 years or life. Chief Justice Thomas Saylor said he would have allowed the rules to apply retroactively. I know that he's switched jobs," Storm said. Before the new rules took effect four and a half years ago, about 12, people were listed on the state Megan's Law website, which publishes sex offenders' photos, addresses and other information. It is a big no-no, banned by the U. Among them may be year-old Shawn C. He was critical of the decision. Those retroactive provisions violate the U. But the new law is different, Dougherty wrote, given its more stringent requirements. When lawmakers approved the statute, they applied the new rules not only to future cases, but looking backward, to those that had already been decided. Muniz fled the state before sentencing and wasn't apprehended until , when he was arrested in Rhode Island. Under the new law, offenders fall into three tiers of registration: At the time of the offense, Muniz's crime required him to register for 10 years. It expanded the number of crimes that require someone to register as a sex offender or face arrest, and lengthened the amount of time most must do so. He called it "a complex decision" that will "undoubtedly impact" the registry, though he could not estimate the number of names that may be removed. The decision, authored by Justice Kevin Dougherty, represented a departure from previous Pennsylvania and federal court rulings that have upheld retroactive registration for Megan's Law, finding it passed constitutional muster because its aim is to protect and inform the public, and not punish the offender. Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm called the ruling disheartening, saying survivors of sexual assault rely on the registry for peace of mind. It's a fancy legal term for a law that seeks to punish someone after the fact. The ruling was heralded by civil libertarians and criticized by prosecutors and victims' advocates. His lawyer, James Brose, has challenged Williams' registration requirements as a retroactive punishment, and he welcomed the Supreme Court's decision.
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