Pa. ruling: Some 1st time sex offenders can avoid lifetime registry

Written by Rachel McDevitt/Radio Pennsylvania | Aug 19, 2016 11:05 AM

FILE PHOTO: (AP Photo/Frank Eltman)

(Harrisburg) -- A ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week will spare some first-time sex offenders from lifetime registry with the state police.

The state Victim Advocate sees negative consequences with that decision.

The Supreme Court says a person will now need to be convicted of a Tier I crime twice before they have to register as a sex offender for life, not just be convicted of two charges.

District attorneys are saying the ruling could make it harder for them to reach plea deals with offenders, because lifetime registration will already be off the table.

Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm says the loss of that bargaining chip could mean more cases go to trial.

"You know, that's problematic for the prosecutors, but it's also for the victims. A lot of victims, you know, going to trial for them is incredbily traumatic," she says. "Having to testify can be an incredibly traumatic experience, and having to -- especially in sex cases -- have that whole process kind of be drug out through the mud can be incredibly harmful for victims."

Tier I offenses range from possession of child pornography to institutional sexual assault.

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