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Commonwealth v Wilgus

Since this case the legislature has changed the law..

6-26-2009 Pennsylvania:

Commonwealth v Wilgus

¶ 1 We are called on to decide whether the Legislature, in requiring a Megan's Law offender to register his “residence,” included within the requirement the circumstances of this case in which the defendant is a homeless and transient person.

¶ 2 The defendant William Howard Wilgus (Wilgus) was released from prison and, after being turned away from various housing programs, lived on the streets of downtown Harrisburg for 30 days before being arrested for not registering his “residence” as required by Megan's Law.   He was convicted in a non-jury trial, but the trial judge set aside his conviction and dismissed the charges.   The trial judge concluded Wilgus did not have a “residence” to register and, therefore, had not violated Megan's Law.

¶ 3 We conclude the Legislature could have drafted the Megan's Law registration requirement to require a homeless and transient person to register, but it did not, and, consequently, we agree the conviction must be set aside.

6-27-2009 Pennsylvania:

A state Superior Court panel ruled Friday that convicted sexual offenders cannot be held subject to Megan's Law registration requirements if they are homeless.

In upholding a Dauphin County judge, the state appellate court found that William H. Wilgus should not have been prosecuted for violating the requirements to register his address with state police since after being released from prison in 2007 on sexual assault charges, he could not find a home.

The court said Wilgus unsuccessfully tried to find housing at Bethesda Mission and several other shelters and ended up living in alleys around Second and Market streets near the county courthouse.

The court said the definition of residence in the law and its purpose to inform neighbors makes it clear that the law cannot apply to transients. The three-judge panel suggested the state Legislature could amend the law to address the situation. ..Source.. by PETE SHELLEM, Of The Patriot-News

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