ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 231 PN 195 adds 18 existing offenses to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6318, which establishes the crime of unlawful contact with a minor. The offenses listed under Section 6318 are not unique; every crime listed within §6318 is already an existing criminal offense. Section 6318 simply creates an additional offense if the person commits the underlying offense AND initiates contact with a minor or the minor being contacted. Section 6318 creates separate, stand-alone offenses that are not considered “lesser included offenses” for charging and conviction purposes. Establishing a separate offense allows prosecutors to charge two separate offenses listed under §6318 for the exact same conduct: once under the existing statute and then again, separately, under §6318.
This gives prosecutors even greater plea bargaining leverage by permitting them to charge two separate offenses for the same act, further impeding the already vanishing right to trial. HB 231 doubles down on this practice by handing 18 new offenses to prosecutors, all of which can be sentenced as separate offenses. And the grading scheme all but ensures that each act can be charged with two separate felonies.