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06/12/97 ROY D. VAN DOREN v. JOSEPH F. MAZURKIEWICZ

June 12, 1997

ROY D. VAN DOREN, JR., PETITIONER
v.
JOSEPH F. MAZURKIEWICZ, PH.D; TITLE 42 PA. C.S. SECTIONS 9791 ET SEQ.; TITLE 37 PA. C.S. SECTIONS 56.1 ET SEQ.; AND, ALL OTHER MATTERS RELATING TO "MEGAN'S LAW" AND ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENTS



Before: Honorable Joseph T. Doyle, Judge, Honorable Dan Pellegrini, Judge, Honorable Samuel L. Rodgers, Senior Judge. Opinion BY Judge Doyle.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle

ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

OPINION BY JUDGE DOYLE

FILED: June 12, 1997

This case involves preliminary objections filed by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania and Joseph F. Mazurkiewicz (collectively, Respondents), the Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution -- Rockview (SCI -- Rockview), in response to the Petition for Review filed by Roy A. Van Doren, Jr., an inmate at SCI-Rockview, which challenges the constitutionality of the registration provisions for sex offenders set forth in 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 9791-9799.6, commonly known as "Megan's Law." *fn1

This action was apparently precipitated by a memorandum circulated by Superintendent Mazurkiewicz, which was attached as an exhibit to Van Doren's original Petition for Review, although not attached as an exhibit to his Amended Petition for Review. Apparently, the memorandum circulated by Respondent Mazurkiewicz informed inmates that, in accord with the provisions of Megan's Law,

Any inmate who will be released from this institution and has completed his entire sentence will be notified at least ten (10) days prior to his max date . . . that he is required to register under this new law. Any inmate who fails to sign these two (2) registration forms will be committing a felony of the third degree and subsequently will be arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police in violation of this law.

(Exhibit A to Petition for Review at 1.) (Emphasis added.)

According to the averments in Van Doren's Amended Petition for Review, he is currently serving a mandatory ten-year prison sentence at SCI -- Rockview, which is scheduled to expire on March 23, 1998, for convictions in Wayne County for the crimes of statutory rape (18 Pa. C.S. § 3122), involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with someone under 16 years of age (18 Pa. C.S. § 3123(a)(5)), indecent assault (18 Pa. C.S. § 3126), and incest (18 Pa. C.S. § 4302).

On June 3, 1996, Van Doren instituted the present action by filing a Petition for Review, requesting injunctive and declaratory relief and challenging the constitutionality of the registration provisions of Megan's Law. On August 27, 1996, Van Doren filed an Amended Petition for Review, to which the Attorney General and Respondent Mazurkiewicz filed preliminary objections on October 28, 1996, and November 22, 1996, respectively.

Megan's Law essentially provides that those convicted of certain specified crimes must "register" in accordance with the provisions of the legislation. The crimes requiring registration are enumerated in Section 9793(b) of Megan's Law, which provides:

(b) Persons required to register. --

(1) Persons convicted of any of the following offenses that are classified as a felony and involve a victim who is a minor:

18 Pa.C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping) except by a parent.

18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

18 Pa.C.S. § 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).

18 Pa.C.S. § 5903(a)(3), (4), (5) or (6) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).

(2) Persons convicted of any of the following offenses regardless of the age of the victim:

18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 [(relating to rape)].

18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 [(relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse)].

18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 [(relating to aggravated indecent assault)].

18 Pa.C.S. § 3128(a) and (b) (relating to spousal sexual assault).

42 Pa. C.S. § 9793(b)(1)-(2). Offenders required to register under Megan's Law must do so in accordance with Section 9793(a), which pertinently provides:

(a) Registration. -- A person convicted of any of the offenses set forth in subsection (b) shall be required to register a current address with the Pennsylvania State Police upon release from incarceration . . . . The Department of Corrections shall not release the offender until it receives verification from the Pennsylvania State Police that it has received the registration information. Where the offender is scheduled to be released from a state correctional facility due to the expiration of the maximum term of incarceration, the Department of Corrections shall collect the information from the offender no later than ten days prior to the maximum expiration date. The Department of Corrections shall forward the registration information to the Pennsylvania State Police. Where the offender scheduled to be released due to the maximum expiration date refuses to provide the registration information, the Department of Corrections shall notify the Pennsylvania State Police of the failure to provide registration information and of the expected date, time and location of the release of the offender. . . . The offender shall inform the Pennsylvania State Police within ten days if the offender changes residence. . . . The period of registration shall be ten years.

42 Pa. C.S. § 9793(a). The registration information is then provided to the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality in which the sex offender will reside. *fn2

Megan's Law also classifies certain sex offenders as "sexually violent predators," *fn3 who must register in accordance with 42 Pa. C.S. § 9795. *fn4 The critical difference between the two designations is that, in the case of sexual offenders, the registration information is disseminated only to local law enforcement officials, whereas in the case of "sexually violent ...


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