SORNA – Constitutional Victory

This is one of the first cases in Pennsylvania to be resolved.

Order, PCRA, Redacted

I am pleased to have successffully represented a client who was unconstitutionally required to register as a sex offender since 2012.  In 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to require a person to register under 42 Pa.C.S. Chapter 97, where that person’s registration requirement had expired.  This decision focused on the SORNA legislation passed in 2012.

The SORNA legislation required individuals who for example, had a 10 registration requirement for certain offenses, to now register for life regardless of the initial registration requirements.  The Court got this one right and held that registration is  in essence a penalty and therefore, requiring an additional penalty was ex post facto and unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a challenge to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in Muniz filed by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

Pittsburgh Attorney Defends Sex Assault

Teens Testify Against Former Beaver Co. Coach Accused Of Sex Assault

http://www.wpxi.com/news/coach-accused-of-raping-teen-girls-headed-to-trial/454713702

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After the hearing, defense attorney Steven Townsend said he thought the teens’ testimony was “suspect” and “inconsistent.”

“I think there’s a lot of holes that need to be closed,” Mr. Townsend said, raising the question of why the girls continued to have sex with Mr. Ruprecht if he was forcing them to have sex with others or hurting one of them. Mr. Townsend also noted that the two testified that they willingly had intercourse with Mr. Ruprecht.

“A lot of it just doesn’t make sense to me,” Mr. Townsend said.

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Sex Assault cases are normally won or lost based based on the testimony at the Preliminary Hearing.  Over my many years of defending sex cases, I have been contacted by defendants who either waived their right to a  Preliminary Hearing or had ineffective representation.  The questions are:  What can I do now?  Why did my attorney waive the Preliminary Hearing?  How can you help me?  

There are ways to remedy when a defendant has lost his right to confront witnesses at the Preliminary Hearing, but you must hire an attorney who handles sex assault cases and has successfully litigated sex assault cases.  Steven C. Townsend has handled hundreds of assault cases and know the importance of every step of the process.  If you have been charged or are being investigated for sex assault please contact him immediately.  You only get once chance to defend yourself against criminal charges and the consequences of choosing the wrong or inexpereinced  attorney can be devastating. 

412-2815336

www.pghlaw.com

#pghlaw

 

Rape Kits – How important are they?

Rape Kits – How important are they?

rape-kit

 

By Steven C. Townsend

I recently won a rape/sex assault trial where DNA was a crucial piece of evidence obtained by a rape kit. How significant was the evidence? The DNA extracted from the rape kit showed that my client was excluded from the profiles obtained. What is so disturbing is what happened during the trial.

 

On cross-examination of the lead detective, I asked if he ever submitted the rape kit and the other samples for testing. He agreed that he requested the rape kit and submitted it for testing but amazingly said he never reviewed the results.  How important or significant was this evidence? Apparently, it was not significant enough for the detective to review the final analysis of the rape kit. He testified that he had no idea what the results of the rape kit showed or the DNA testing. This is after there were dozens of samples obtained from the rape kit itself as well as other areas of the site of the alleged rape. I could not believe it when he testified that he never reviewed the reports. I even asked him again to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

 

My client was found NOT GUILTY of those charges.

 

I only write about this case after I read the article attached below on how our State is not effectively using rape kits or failing to test the rape kits that are in storage. How many people are sitting in jail and prison because the system refuses or neglects to test its own evidence? The article goes on to talk about inadequate communication may be a reason for the problems.

 

I wonder how the “communication” issues would have affected my client had the rape kit been taken and thrown in a storage closet for the next 10 years. We have the technology and the budget to utilize our scientific evidence, but for some reason, those who are facing decades of incarceration don’t deserve a level playing field according to our State.

 

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2016/09/07/Pa-auditor-Eugene-DePasquale-blames-rape-kit-backlog-on-confusing-information-from-state/stories/201609070181