If you are ordered to register as a sex offender in Pennsylvania, there are many requirements you must adhere to for your lifetime or a period of years. You must register with the local law enforcement agency in the county where you live. If you work or go to school in another county, you need to register there as well. You may have to verify your registration every year, twice each year, or four times per year, depending on whether you are a Tier I, II, or III offender. These are only the most fundamental requirements of sex offender registration. Based on your sentence or as a term of your probation or parole, you may face some other restrictions.
To defend yourself against a sex crime or to mitigate sex offender restrictions, contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC by calling (412) 281-2146. Our experienced Pittsburgh sex crime attorneys are here to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your situation.
When Sex Offender Restrictions May Arise
Previously, the restrictions placed upon you as a sex offender were determined by the judge at the time of your sentencing. Any limits you would need to adhere to after your release from imprisonment were part of your official sentence. However, in recent years, Pennsylvania courts have found that probation and parole boards can independently decide what restrictions are appropriate and even make them conditions on your release from prison.
You may learn of restrictions that you must follow when you are going to be released for probation or on parole, which was not part of your original sentence. To attempt to mitigate the sex offender restrictions you face, you should work with an experienced attorney from Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC.
A Risk Assessment Influences Restrictions
After being convicted of a sex offense, a Sex Offender Assessment Board (SOAB) will conduct an assessment to determine if you should be classified as a sexually violent predator. Separately, the SOAB also performs evaluations for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to assess your risk of re-offending and your specific risk factors.
The SOAB offers the probation and parole board an expert opinion regarding your treatment, management, and restrictions that address your particular risk of re-offending.
Possible Sex Offender Restrictions
If you must register as a sex offender, you may have to adhere to various restrictions, such as:
- Community Notification – If a Sexual Offenders Assessment Board determines you are a Sexually Violent Predator or a Sexually Violent Delinquent Child, you are subject to community notification. When you move to a new area, all of the households and businesses within 250 feet of where you reside receive a community notification flyer or the 25 closest homes and businesses near where you live receive the flyer, whichever is greater. This notification includes your name, address, picture, and the offense you committed that required lifetime sex offender registration.
- Living Arrangements – As a sex offender, where you can live is not automatically restricted. However, you may be prohibited from living within a certain distance of a school, daycare facility, park, or other places where children congregate. This is more likely to occur if one or more of your victims were a minor and, based on your risk assessment, the probation or parole authority believes you living near children would increase the risk of you re-offending.
- Employment Options – Depending on the circumstances of your sex offense, or multiple crimes, a condition of your parole may be not working in certain types of businesses or positions. Usually, the restrictions revolve around keeping you away from vulnerable individuals, such as seniors or individuals with disabilities. You may also be restricted from working in places or positions that would put you in contact with people similar to your victims.
- Internet Use – Your right to use the Internet is not automatically taken away if you are convicted of a sex offense. However, if you used the Internet to commit the crime, such as if you contact a victim through a social media network, a judge may include a prohibition on Internet use as part of your sentence or the entity that controls your probation or parole may include an Internet ban as part of your conditions of release. In Pennsylvania, this is decided on a case-by-case basis.
- No-Contact Orders – You may be required to refrain from contacting certain individuals or from putting yourself in situations where you may come into contact with certain people, such as your victims or your victim type.
Consequences of Parole Violations
As a sex offender on parole, you need to be careful to follow all of the restrictions and conditions of your release. If you violate any probation terms, other than committing a new crime, then this is known as a technical parole violation. A technical violation could require you to return to court to defend yourself. If found guilty of the violation, then you may be penalized. The severity of your sentence depends on the violation. Less severe penalties may include drug testing, curfew, or mandatory treatment programs. The most severe punishment is revocation of your parole or probation, which means you will be forced to return to prison.
If you commit a new crime while on parole, this is known as a convicted parole violation. In this situation, you will be detained, and you may not be able to leave jail by posting bail. If found guilty of the new offense, you will return to prison and can be charged the highest imprisonment term for the original offense. However, if you are convicted of a non-violent crime, then the probation and parole board has the discretion to take your “street” time into account. If charged with a new offense while on parole, it is essential that you work with a defense attorney to avoid returning to prison.
A Pittsburgh Sex Crime Lawyer Can Help
If you are seeking parole after being convicted of a sex offense, contact a Pittsburgh criminal lawyer at our firm right away. We can represent you in pursuing minimal sex offender restrictions upon your re-entry into society, which improves your chances of finding a place to live, obtaining a job, and moving forward in life. We can also help if you are being accused of violating a sex offender restriction. We will thoroughly review your situation, determine the strongest defense to the accusations, and fight to obtain the best possible outcome.