Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Pennsylvania's Megan's Law?

In 1995, Pennsylvania adopted Megan’s Law, which required offenders convicted of certain sex crimes to register information (such as their name and home address) with the Pennsylvania State Police and to have their photograph and other identifying information posted on the public Megan’s Law website.

2. What is the Adam Walsh Act and what is SORNA?

The federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was signed into law by President Bush on July 27, 2006. Title I of the federal Adam Walsh Act is the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act or “SORNA.” One of the goals of the federal Adam Walsh Act, and of SORNA in particular, was to address the inconsistency across the various state Megan’s Law registries and to create a uniform standard for sex offender registry requirements. To achieve this goal, the federal Adam Walsh Act required the states to implement legislation that was in substantial compliance with the sex offender registry requirements set forth in SORNA.

On December 20, 2011, Pennsylvania enacted the Adam Walsh Act to comply with this federal mandate. In 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that certain provisions of Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Act were unconstitutional. Accordingly, Governor Wolf signed a new sex offender registration statute into law, which is known as Act 10 of 2018.

3. What Is Act 10 of 2018?

Act 10 of 2018 addressed individuals who had committed their offense before December 20, 2012.  Individuals who are required to register by Act 10 either have a ten-year or lifetime registration requirement, which would have been the requirement prior to the Adam Walsh Act.

4. What is a Sexually Violent Predator?

A Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) is a sex offender convicted of a sexually violent offense in Pennsylvania who has “a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.”

Every time an individual is convicted of a sexually violent offense in Pennsylvania, the Court must order a Sexually Violent Predator assessment of that individual by the SOAB.  Within 90 days of the date of conviction, the SOAB must submit a written assessment recommending whether or not the individual should be classified as a Sexually Violent Predator, based on numerous factors set forth in the law. The final determination as to whether someone should be classified as a Sexually Violent Predator is made by the Court after a Sexually Violent Predator hearing.

If an individual is classified by the Court as a Sexually Violent Predator, the individual is automatically subject to: Lifetime registration with the Pennsylvania State Police with quarterly of his registration information; Lifetime, at least monthly, mandatory sex offender counseling with a treatment provider approved by the SOAB; and Active community notification, whereby local law enforcement authorities notify neighbors, county children and youth agencies, local day care centers, school districts and institutions of higher education of the Sexually Violent Predator’s name, residential address and offense; and also provide a photograph of the offender.

5. What is a Sexually Violent Delinquent Child?

Under Pennsylvania’s Act 21 of 2003, the SOAB is required to assess certain juvenile sex offenders who are aging out the juvenile justice system. These Act 21 assessments assist the courts in determining whether a juvenile sex offender should be committed to the Commonwealth’s inpatient juvenile civil commitment program for continued sex offender treatment rather then being released into the community upon turning 21 years of age.

To meet the criteria for commitment, the juvenile must have a “mental abnormality or personality disorder” that causes the offender to have “serious difficulty in controlling sexually violent behavior” that makes him “likely to engage in an act of sexual violence.” 42 Pa. C.S. §6402, §6403(a)(3). If the Court decides to commit the juvenile to the involuntary civil commitment program, the juvenile is referred to as a Sexually Violent Delinquent Child (SVDC).