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 that section 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 stand-alone offenses that 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. Threatening to double the criminal penalties for the same action gives prosecutors even greater plea bargaining leverage, further impeding the already vanishing right to trial. And the threat of increased incarceration is real, since the 18 new, duplicative offenses are each graded as third-degree felonies or higher.