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Starting tomorrow, the rules for who must register as a Megan’s Law sex offender in Pennsylvania will change.  Under the new law, sex offenders are classified by three tiers.  Tier I offenders will have to register for 15 years.  Tier II offenders will have to register for 25 years.  Tier III offenders will have to register for life.  If you are currently serving a period of incarceration for a sexual offense, are currently on parole or probation for a sexual offense, or are currently a Megan’s Law registrant, the new law will affect you.

 Please note that, if you are currently incarcerated or on parole or probation for a sexual offense, you will be forced to register under the new law even if your offense was not a Megan’s Law offense before. 

 If the terms of your registration have changed because of the modification to Megan’s Law or if you were previously not required to register but now have to register because of the change in the law, contact the Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) practice of Bickerton & Bickerton at 412-398-5507 or 412-596-8124 for a consultation.

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The new expansion to the Pennsylvania castle doctrine will take effect on Saturday, August 27th, 2011.  (h/t NRA-ILA)

For more information, go to:

UPDATE: In the News: Pa governor signs bill expanding Castle Doctrine

In the News: PA Castle Doctrine Bill passes state senate

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On July 7th, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett signed a law into effect that would immunize underage drinkers from criminal charges if they are seeking medical attention for another person.  The purpose of this law is to encourage underage drinkers to call for help if they see another person who is “in need of immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious injury.”

To qualify for amnesty under the new law, a person must show that the only reason why law enforcement became aware of the underage drinking (or possession of alcohol) was because 1.) the underaged person called for help in a situation where they reasonably believed that another person was in need of serious medical attention, 2.) the underaged person reasonably believed that he was the first to call for help, 3.) the underaged person gave his name to the emergency responder when he called for help, 4.) the underaged person stayed with the person suffering a medical emergency until help arrived and his presence is no longer necessary.

For more information, go to:

In the News: Pa considers underage drinking amnesty law

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0448&pn=1458

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Governor Tom Corbett has signed a Pennsylvania bill expanding the castle doctrine.  Under the previous law, if a person faced the threat of death or serious bodily injury outside of their home or place of work was able to retreat with complete safety, self-defense with deadly force was not permitted.  With the new law, it is now permissible to meet a threat of death or serious bodily injury with deadly force regardless of the location as long as the person is legally permitted to be at the location.  The new bill also provides protection from civil liability for those who use deadly force legally.

For more information, go to:

https://bickerton-law.com/2011/06/20/in-the-news-pa-castle-doctrine-bill-passes-state-senate/

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11179/1156785-100.stm

http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/NewsReleases.aspx?ID=15275

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A Pennsylvania bill modfiying the duty to retreat in the face of a threat of death or serious bodily injury has passed the Pennsylvania General Assembly and is awaiting approval by Governor Tom Corbett.

Under existing law, a person has a duty to retreat from a threat of death or serious bodily injury if 1.) he can retreat with complete safety and 2.) he is not in his home or place of business.  With the new law, a person who is in a place where she or he has the right to be may legally meet a threat of death or serious bodily injury with deadly force without being required to escape.  The statute would also create immunity from a civil suit in cases where a person properly used force in self defense.

For more information, go to:

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=0040&pn=1038

http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Read.aspx?ID=6937

 

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas will start a new court program for defendants charged with sex crimes.  The program’s goal is to increase accountability among sex offenders and to reduce recidivism rates.  The new program will also result in sex offense cases being moved through the judicial system faster.

 

For more information, go to:

 

http://postgazette.com/pg/11124/1144009-100.stm

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that US District Judge Gustave Diamond has denied a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and dismiss charges in a case where the evidence was destroyed before trial.  In this case, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office permitted drug evidence and a coin purse allegedly seized from the defendant to be incinerated. Before granting the request to incinerate the evidence, the District Attorney’s Office was not aware that the United States Attorney General’s Office was prosecuting the case.  The defense argued that it was substantially impaired by the destruction of evidence and requested that the court dismiss the charges and suppress the destroyed evidence.  After considering the motions, Judge Diamond concluded that the evidence was not destroyed in bad faith and that the prosecution was not put on notice that the defendant found the coin purse to be exculpatory evidence.

 

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11109/1140430-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a federal judge may permit a drug case to proceed after the Allegheny County Office of the District Attorney destroyed evidence.  The case, which is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond, involves a defendant who has been accused of possession with intent to deliver heroin.  After the Allegheny County DA’s office transferred prosecution to the United States Attorney General’s office, the drug evidence and the zippered purse in which the drugs were allegedly found were incinerated.  The defendant argues that the absence of the zippered purse will hamper her ability to challenge the legality of the police officers’ search.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11096/1137378-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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The Associated Press reports that South Carolina is considering legislation that would limit prison inmates’ access to Facebook.  The law, if enacted, would prohibit inmates from accessing Facebook from inside the prison facility and from having friends or relatives create a Facebook page for them.  The news article notes that, “Facebook already prohibits third-party profiles and takes them down when they find out. The company also deactivates prisoner pages when they become aware of them, regardless of who set up the pages.”

 

For more information, go to:

Yahoo! News: South Carolina bill targets prisoners on Facebook

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Rickie Lee Fowler has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder after after five men died from heart attacks during the 2003 San Bernadino wildfires. Supervising Deputy District Attorney Victor Strull contends that, even though the men did not die in the fire, their deaths were the direct result of Fowler setting the fire. Under the felony-murder rule, a defendant can be charged with murder when a victim dies during the commission of a felony. In this case, Fowler is charged with two felony counts of arson. If convicted, Fowler may face the death penalty.
For more information, go to:

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