Recent Developments in the Sex Offender Registry Law in New York State

At the law offices of Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP, our criminal defense attorneys regularly represent clients charged with sex crimes. Most sex crimes in New York State are registrable under SORA and after a conviction require a hearing to determine a risk level to reoffend.

Some examples of sex crimes include; Rape, Sexual Misconduct, Child Pornography, Unlawful Surveillance and Forcible Touching.

SORA Levels in New York

Level 1 is considered a low risk to reoffend. Level 2 is considered a moderate risk to reoffend and Level 3 is a high risk to reoffend. Level 1 requires registration for 20 years and Levels 2 and 3 are required to register for life.

It is important to vigorously defend not only the criminal charge but the risk level at the SORA hearing. Our SORA lawyers in White Plains, NY, have decades of experience defending sex crimes and SORA level designations. Our goal is to obtain the lowest possible level designation or move for a downward departure to the lowest level.

As SORA Lawyers in White Plains, we need to keep informed of all recent developments in the SORA law to adequately protect our clients. Below are two recent cases involving SORA designation levels that our SORA attorneys found helpful.

SORA and Out-of-State Convictions

People v Diaz: The defendant had a Virginia murder conviction for killing his 13-year-old sister, a crime for which there was no sexual component. After being paroled, he was required to register in Virginia under its sex registry act. The issue on this People’s appeal was whether, upon moving to New York, the defendant was required to register under SORA. In an opinion authored by Judge Feinman, the Court of Appeals answered “no” and affirmed the challenged order. SORA, which primarily seeks to provide law enforcement with information to prevent sexual victimization, requires registration of sex offenders from other jurisdictions. Virginia—which requires registration for various nonsexual violent crimes against minors, such as the instant crime—did not consider the defendant a sex offender. Thus, he was not required to register here. “Blind deference” to another jurisdiction’s registry would contravene the statute. The holding in this case merely required a determination as to whether the out-of-state registrant was considered a sex offender by the foreign jurisdiction. Judge Fahey wrote a dissenting opinion in which Chief Judge DiFiore and Judge Stein concurred, stating: the “majority supplant[ed] the legislature’s straightforward method with an impractical invention that will obstruct officials every time they are faced with the question whether an offender from another state must register here.”

SORA / Error

People v Ramos

The defendant appealed from an order of Kings County Supreme Court designating him a level-three sex offender. The Second Department reversed and remitted. At the SORA hearing, the court found to be premature the defendant’s request for a downward departure from the presumptive risk level. That was error; the trial court should have addressed the merits. A defendant seeking a downward departure has the initial burden of: (1) as a matter of law, identifying an appropriate mitigating factor—one which tends to establish a lower likelihood of re-offense or danger to the community and which is not adequately addressed by the Guidelines; and (2) establishing supporting facts by a preponderance of the evidence. If the defendant makes that showing, the court must determine whether a departure is warranted.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in New York State call our sex crime lawyers today. We have decades of experience defending all types of sex offenses. We are also experienced SORA defense lawyers and have represented clients at both the initial SORA hearing and later at downward departure hearings. We appear in the Westchester County Criminal Courts and the criminal courts of all surrounding counties.

Our main offices are located in downtown White Plains, NY and we also maintain an office in Peekskill ,New York, New York. We are always available for a free initial consultation. You may contact our office by telephone or email for immediate assistance.