Those convicted of a sex crime will likely need to register as a sex offender per the New York Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Once you’ve been listed on the Sex Offender Registry, people may be able to search for you by name, county, or zip code, depending on your risk level. Whether you’re still battling accusations of a sex crime or you’ve already been convicted, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Sex crimes carry a unique type of stigma, and registration as a sex offender can ruin a person’s professional and personal life. At CDH Law PLLC, we represent clients throughout the Syracuse area who have been charged with sex crimes. We also represent clients who are seeking to change their status as a registered sex offender. Contact our Syracuse criminal defense law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
Who Must Register As a New York Sex Offender?
Anyone convicted of a registerable sex offense in New York must register as a sex offender, including the following types of crimes:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual abuse
- Most sexual crimes involving minors
- Sex trafficking
- Certain prostitution crimes
- Unlawful surveillance
- Forcible touching
- Sexual misconduct
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Criminal sexual acts
Understanding the Sex Offender Registration Act
Under New York law, sex offenders must register with the state according to the Sex Offender Registration Act. Sex offender registration is mandatory because sex crimes are considered severe and the state wants to keep track of the whereabouts of those convicted of these crimes. Those convicted of other types of crimes do not need to register on a database searchable by the public. Placement on the sex offender registry can be among the most devastating penalties imposed by New York criminal courts.
Many of our clients ask us what type of information will be available about them on New York’s sex offender registration website. The information included on the website depends on the category of a sex crime and the registrant’s risk level. A public registration profile can consist of the following pieces of information:
- A physical description
- Current address
- Date of birth
- Current photo
- Identifying marks such as scars or tattoos
- A description of the person’s vehicle or vehicles
- The person’s risk level
- Sex offender designation
- The type of sex crime involved
- The victim’s age and sex
- The offender’s criminal sentence
- Jurisdiction agency
- Type of force used in the sex crime
Categories In The Sex Offender Registration Act
New York categorizes sex crimes based on their risk level, which seeks to define the defendant’s risk of committing another sex crime. The category of sex crime impacts the defendant’s sex offender registration requirements. Level 3 sex crimes are considered high risk, Level 2 sex crimes are regarded as moderate risk, and Level 1 sex crimes are considered low risk. The defendant’s risk level determines how much information will be available to the public through their sex offender registration.
The sentencing court will determine the defendant’s risk level at a hearing. Before the defendant is released from jail back into the community, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders will evaluate the case’s facts and provide the court with a risk level recommendation.
How Long Must a Defendant Stay Registered As a Sex Offender?
Defendants may also receive a designation that will determine how long they must stay registered as sex offenders. A defendant who has been convicted of a sexually violent crime and who will likely engage in other sexually violent crimes due to a personality or mental abnormality is considered a sexual predator. Sexual predators are considered the most dangerous types of defendants and are required to remain on the Sex Offender Registry for life.
A defendant convicted of a sexually violent offense is considered a sexually violent offender. Finally, a predicate sex offender has one or more previous sex crime convictions on their criminal record. Each of these designations, if applied at the SORA hearing, result in a lifelong registration requirement.
Penalties for Failure to Register As a Sex Offender in New York
Registration requirements for sex offenders are strict. Those who fail to comply face severe penalties in New York. Failure to register as a sex offender is in itself a felony crime. Failure to register as a sex offender is a Class E felony for first-time violators, punishable by one to four years in prison. Subsequent failure to register as a sex offender are class D felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Registered sex offenders must abide by specific regulations even after they are released from jail or probation. For example, registered sex offenders must report to their local police station to have a new photograph taken every three years if they are considered a Level 1 or Level 2 offender. Level 3 offenders must have a new photograph taken at the police station every year.
Those with a sexual predator designation who are Level 3 offenders must verify their address with a law enforcement officer every 90 days in person. Level 2 and level 3 sex offenders also need to report their employer’s name and address and provide notification of any changes to their address or employment in writing.
Getting Removed From New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act
The best way to protect your freedom is to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you’re arrested for a sex crime in New York. However, if you’ve already been convicted of a sex crime and you’re a registered sex offender, you still have options. You have the right to request a hearing once a year requesting to be removed from the sex offender registry. You will be able to present evidence showing that you have completed sex offender treatment, maintain a clean record, and that you’re no longer a risk. Our office routinely handles these “modification” proceedings, and can advise you whether bringing a modification petition is the right move for you under the circumstances of your case.
Contact a Syracuse Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Being registered as a sex offender can be life-altering. If you face criminal charges for a sex crime, or you’ve already been registered as a sex offender, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact CDH Law PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we can help you protect your rights.