Sex Offender Registration

A conviction for a New York sex offense comes with many harsh consequences. A significant time behind bars may certainly be one of them.  After you’ve served your sentence, the social stigma of being a convicted sex offender will continue to follow you, maybe for the rest of your life. Additionally, you will have to register as a sex offender under the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Being a registered sex offender can potentially limit where you are able to work and live.  It is also possible that everyone with access to a computer may be able to find out about your criminal past.

Who Must Register as a Sex Offender?

New York law requires a person convicted of a “sex offense” or a “sexually violent offense” to register as a sex offender with the Division of Criminal Justice Services regardless of whether the person took a plea or was found guilty after trial. There are almost 50 separate criminal offenses which require registration upon conviction. Some of the most common sex crimes which result in mandatory registration include:

  • Luring a child
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Rape
  • Criminal sexual acts
  • Forcible touching
  • Sexual abuse
  • Aggravated sexual abuse
  • Course of sexual conduct against a child
  • Facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance
  • Predatory sexual assault
  • Patronizing a prostitute
  • Promoting or compelling prostitution
  • Sex trafficking
  • Incest

Additionally, individuals convicted in another jurisdiction and who now reside in New York State may be required to register as a sex offender if they were convicted of an offense equivalent to a New York State registerable sex offense, they were convicted of a felony requiring registration in the conviction jurisdiction, or they were convicted of certain federal sex offenses.

Different Levels with Different Consequences

Under SORA, sex offenders are divided into three different levels – Level 1 (low risk of re-offense), Level 2 (medium risk of re-offense) and Level 3 (high risk of re-offense).

Before an incarcerated offender is released into the community, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders evaluates the offender and provides a risk level recommendation to the court. The court will then hold a risk level hearing and assign a level to the offender prior to release.

At the SORA hearing, the court will also determine whether an offender should be designated a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender, or a predicate sex offender. This designation, along with the risk level adjudication, determines the duration of the registration. Level 1 sex offenders must register for 20 years unless they have been given one of the above designations. Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders must register for life. If the sex offender has been designated a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender, lifetime registration is required regardless of risk level. Additionally, Level 2 and 3 offenders are listed on a public directory.

Often, the SORA hearing will take place when an offender is close to completing a term of incarceration.  Having an experienced sex crimes defense attorney at your SORA hearing is critical, as each sex offender level comes with increasingly harsh restrictions, including the possibility of lifetime registration as a sex offender. 

In addition, once a defendant has been required to register as a sex offender, failure to perform any of the registration obligations may be charged as a separate felony offense.  A first conviction is punishable as a Class E felony, a second or subsequent conviction is punishable as a Class D felony.

The attorneys at Epstein & Conroy are experienced representing defendants at SORA hearings and representing defendants accused of violating the SORA requirements. 

Regardless of the specific charges you are facing, if you have been accused of a New York sex crime, you need a skilled and determined advocate to save your reputation and your future. Please call (718) 852-6763 to speak with one of our experienced New York criminal defense attorneys now.

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