Sunday, January 27, 2013

Changes to the PA Crimes Code for 2013

The Pennsylvania General Assembly one of the highest paid legislatures in the country was busy in 2012.  The leglislature, made up of  203 house members and 50 senators, passed approximately 300 new laws many of which are being implemented in 2013.

Here is an overview of some of the new crime related laws, which went into effect on January 1, as described by the  Beaver County Times:


For the first time since the 1970s the Legislature has increased the fines for underage drinking. Prior to this year, the fine has been set at a maximum of $300. Now, a first-offense underage-drinking conviction carries a fine of $500, and a second-offense fine doubles to $1,000.


Wiretap laws are set to expire periodically and are reviewed by legislators on a regular basis. Under the previous laws, if police wanted to tap someone’s phone, they had to have a specific phone number and have the district attorney or attorney general go before the court and establish probable cause to get permission to tap that phone line.

With the proliferation of mobile phones -- and in particular disposable phones -- by the time investigators were able to get a warrant to tap the phone line, the person had tossed the phone and gotten a new one.The new law allows investigators to get permission to intercept the phone calls made to a specific individual, not a specific phone number.


Sexting was considered child pornography under previous laws, even if it was a minor sending a photo to another minor. The changed law allows prosecutors to evaluate sexting on a case-by-case basis.


There are numerous changes to Megan’s Law this year. One of the changes regarding who must register under Megan’s Law is retroactive.

New crimes have been added to the list of crimes for which someone must register under Megan’s Law. Anyone who is now required to register under Megan’s Law will receive written notification by the state police or probation and parole.


Following the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University, lawmakers have enacted new requirements for schools regarding the possible sexual abuse of students. Schools are now required to train their employees to look for signs of possible abuse in a student and to educate school employees about mandated reporting requirements for suspected abuse.


It is now a crime to euthanize an animal using carbon monoxide poisoning or drowning.

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