8130 – It Simply Doesn’t Register


If you live on the streets, do you have a home?  That’s a tough question for anybody, but it’s particularly tough for a sex offender who is required by law to register his residence with the authorities.  Bill served five years for indecent assault and was also classified as a sexually-violent predator.  When he was released from prison, he was turned away from housing programs and had no choice but to live on the streets of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  After about a month he was arrested for not registering his residence.  The State argued even though he lived on the streets he still had to register, particularly since he had a mail address and a locker at a place called the Daily Bread.  But the Court said Black’s Law Dictionary defines residence as a house or other fixed abode, and if a homeless person drifts from park bench to bus stop to alleyway on a daily basis, he will never acquire a fixed abode.  Unless the law is changed, said the Court, he does not have to register.  So home is where the heart is and where the hearth is and while it may be heartless, the homeless are hearthless, and sex offender registration is rendered helpless.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Howard Wilgus, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, No. 1100 MDA 2008, June 26, 2009, Cleland, J.