The PA Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. Walter Andrews, No. 1524 WDA 2016 (November 7, 2017), holding that the trial court erred when it convicted Andrews of Failure to Comply with Registration Requirements after Andrews registered his new address at 11:21 p.m. on the third business day.

Andrews is a SORNA registrant and was declared an absconder after he left a treatment center. He was located by parole agents and booked for having absconded at 11:21 p.m. Because of his SORNA registration status, he was required to appear in person at an approved registration site within three business days after having left the treatment center so he could to provide his new address and current information. He argued that when considering excludable time (Saturdays, Sundays and PA State Holidays), his arrest and booking at 11:21 P.M. tolled the registration requirement (due to his incarceration and booking) with 39 minutes remaining in the third business day.

The trial court disagreed and Andrews was convicted.

Andrews appealed, claiming that the trial court erred when it found that the “business day” ended at 5:00 P.M. Specifically, he argued that penal statutes that require a SORNA registrant to report within 3 business days or face prosecution must be strictly construed and do not place a time limit on when a person may register during the “business day.”


Essentially, the Superior Court determined that the question at issues was: For purposes of SORNA registration, what time does a “business day” end?


To answer this question, the Superior Court considered information relevant to the registration sites themselves: (1) the statute requires an individual to appear in person to register; (2) there are over 140 approved registration sites; (3) the registration sites are all open different hours; and, (4) some registration sites are open twenty-four hours a day.


After considering the question, the Court held that the term “business days” were to be construed as excluding Saturday, Sunday, and Pennsylvania state holidays and as providing that the window on the third day of registration closes at 12:00 midnight.


Thus, the Court concluded that it was the intent of the legislature to allow an individual to register at any time before 12:00 midnight on the third business day after changing residences. Additionally, the Court commented that to conclude differently would be unfair to a registrant who refers to the published list, contacts his local police barracks as instructed, learns that the police barracks is open twenty-four hours a day, and relies on that information to determine when he can register.


Accordingly, Andrews had until 12:00 midnight on the third business day to register his new address at an approved registration site. And, since he was arrested and booked into jail at 11:21 P.M. on the third business day he had met his registration requirement deadline. Conviction reversed and Judgment of Sentence Vacated.


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