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Commonwealth v. Giannantonio

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

April 20, 2015

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
JAMES GIANNANTONIO, Appellant

Submitted January 14, 2015

Page 430

Appeal from the Order dated May 7, 2014, of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Criminal Division at No(s): CP-23-MD-000712-2013. Before BRADLEY, J.

Joseph A. Ratasiewicz, Media, for APPELLANT.

Andrew S. Kovach, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, APPELLEE.

BEFORE: PANELLA, J., LAZARUS, J., and WECHT, JJ.

OPINION

Page 431

PANELLA, J.

In June 2005, Appellant, James Giannantonio, entered into a negotiated plea agreement in federal court to child pornography charges, and served a term of incarceration. Because of his conviction, Giannantonio was required to comply with applicable state laws regarding sex offender registration after his release from prison. At the time of his release in 2007, Pennsylvania's Megan's Law III required Giannantonio to register with the Pennsylvania State Police (" PSP" ) for ten years. In 2012, however, Pennsylvania's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

Page 432

(" SORNA" )[1] became effective and Giannantonio's required registration period changed from ten years to fifteen years. He commenced the instant action in June 2013, requesting that the trial court enter an order barring application of SORNA to his case, arguing that it was not in effect at the time of his release. The trial court denied his petition and this timely appeal followed.

Giannantonio raises two primary issues on appeal. First, whether an implied contract existed between Giannantonio and the Commonwealth as a result of his federal plea agreement that bars the application of SORNA to his conviction; and, second, whether SORNA, as applied to Giannantonio, violates the ex post facto provision of the United States Constitution.[2] We affirm.

Our legal discussion necessitates a more detailed procedural history of the case and a review of the relevant provisions of SORNA. In June 2005, with the assistance of counsel, Giannantonio pled guilty in federal court to one count of the crime of possession of child pornography, 18 U.S.C.A. § 2252A(a)(4)(B). The United States District Court subsequently sentenced Giannantonio to incarceration in a federal penitentiary for a period of one year and one day, to be followed by three years of supervised release. The federal court's judgment order included a standard list of five requirements for supervised release, each followed by a box to be checked. Giannantonio's judgment order contained the following standard paragraph, which was not checked:

The defendant shall register with the state sex offender registration agency in the state where the defendant resides, works, or is a student, as directed by the probation officer. (Check here).

Id., at 3.

The federal order is devoid of any reference to an agreement with either federal prosecutors or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding state registration following release from prison.

After his release from prison in May 2007, Giannantonio re-established residency in Pennsylvania. On June 20, 2007, he began registering with the PSP as required by Megan's Law III, then in effect.[3] The relevant provisions of Megan's Law III required ...


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