Most people are aware of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) commonly known as Megan’s Law. A person can be placed on this registry only after a criminal conviction of certain enumerated offenses outlined in the SORNA statute. This registry is open to and easily accessible by the public. The registry is maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police, who are also tasked with the enforcement of its requirements and provisions.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services also maintains their own list known as the ChildLine and Abuse Registry. This list is not open to the general public but it contains lists of:
- Reports of suspected child abuse pending investigation;
- Reports with a status of pending juvenile court or pending criminal court action;
- Indicated and founded reports of child abuse;
- Unfounded reports of child abuse awaiting expunction;
- Reports alleging the need for general protective services pending assessment;
- Reports alleging the need for general protective services that have been determined valid or invalid and are awaiting expunction; and
- False reports of child abuse.
There is not a requirement that a person on this list be convicted of any criminal charge, as noted above, even unfounded reports are maintained until they are expunged in accordance with the law. This means that even an accusation can result in a person’s name being listed in the Childline Abuse Registry. Moreover, a person is placed on this list BEFORE there is any type of due process afforded to the alleged offender.
If a report of child abuse is returned by Children and Youth Services or the Department of Human Services as “founded” or “indicated,” a person is labeled as a perpetrator and placed on this registry for life. This will affect his or her ability to find employment, chaperone field trips and events at their child’s school, and many other consequences all without the benefit of prior judicial review.
If a person is placed on this list, he or she will be notified by mail that they have been listed as a perpetrator on the Childline Abuse Registry. If a person wishes to challenge this decision, there is a 90 day deadline from the date of the letter to file a request for review or hearing. If that request is not filed within those 90 days, a person may remain on the registry for life. Time is limited and the review process can be complicated. Hearings are conducted by an administrative law judge using much different procedures than would be normally followed in the courts.
It is imperative that anyone notified of their placement on the registry contacts legal counsel competent in the law and procedures of this process as soon as possible. You can do that with Mooney Law. Count on Mooney to protect your rights, protect your reputation and to protect your name. With 16 offices spread throughout Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland, we bring our law firm close to you. Contact us today for a consultation at 833-MOONEYLAW.