Comm. v. Strafford, 2018 PA Super 223 (Aug. 6, 2018)

Out of Delaware County. The Superior Court addressed an issue of first impression: whether a lifetime registration requirement under SORNA, which exceeds the statutory maximums of convicted offenses, renders the sentence illegal.  The Superior Court held that such a lifetime registration does not render the sentence illegal.

The Superior Court reasoned that SORNA registration, like fines or restitution, is a category of punishment that the General Assembly did not link to maximum periods of incarceration.  Accordingly, it is a different subset of punishment that may be lawfully imposed without consideration of the statutory maximums.  Here was the Court’s rationale verbatim:

In SORNA the legislature authorized courts to include periods of registration as part of a sentence.  Similar to the treatment of the payment of fines or restitution, the legislature did not tie the period of registration to the length of incarceration.  SORNA’s registration provisions are not constrained by Section 1103.  Rather, SORNA’s registration requirements are an authorized punitive measure separate and apart from Appellant’s term of incarceration.  The legislature did not limit the authority of a court to impose registration requirements only within the maximum allowable term of incarceration; in fact, the legislature mandated the opposite and required courts to impose registration requirements in excess of the maximum allowable term of incarceration.