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New York's Sex Offender Registration Act

What is Sex Offender Registration?

In the state of New York, the law requires those who have been convicted of sex-related crimes to register as a sex offender, and the consequences following registration may vary based on the circumstances of their situation. Sex offender registration can lead to social humiliation, loss of relationships, and difficulty finding jobs and housing. Keep reading today’s blog post to learn more about the specific elements of New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act, the associated risk levels, and reporting responsibilities as a registered offender.

The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA)

The Sex Offender Registration Act, also known as SORA or "Megan's Law" established a Sex Offender Registry within the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. SORA requires anyone convicted of a sex offense to register with the State of New York for a specified period, depending on each person’s risk level, which we will discuss later in this post. SORA was enacted to assist local law enforcement agencies and to protect communities by requiring sex offenders to register with the state, which thus provides information to the public about certain sex offenders living in their communities.

Note that anyone on parole or probation or incarcerated for a sex offense after January 21, 1996, must register as a sex offender with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Convicted sex offenders may be sentenced to probation, local jail, or state prison after that date and must still register upon returning to the community. Be aware that those who establish residence in New York State but were convicted in other jurisdictions (e.g., federal, military, or another state or country) must register if they have been convicted of an offense that requires registration as determined by the New York State Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders.

Any juvenile offender convicted of a sex crime must register, and any offender who has moved to New York from another state or country must register with the New York State Division no later than ten days after moving.

Risk Levels

There are 3 levels of sex offenders determined by how likely it is that the individual will commit another sex-related crime. The sex offender level is set by the court, and the 3 levels are:

  • Level 1 – lowest risk
  • Level 2 – moderate risk
  • Level 3 – highest risk

The court can also give three specific designations to a sex offender that determines each offender’s reporting requirements and how much information is open to the public. The three designations are:

  • Sexual Predator – an offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes them likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.
  • Sexually Violent Offender -- an offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense
  • Predicate Sex Offender – a sex offender who has been convicted of a sex offense when the offender has been previously convicted of an offense.

Level 1 offenders must register as sex offenders with DCJS for 20 years, unless they have a special designation as listed above, in which case they must register for life. Level 2 offenders and Level 3 offenders must register for life.

Sex Offender Responsibilities

Sex offenders have many reporting responsibilities and requirements, which include:

  • reporting every year where they live to DCJS;
  • notifying DCJS in writing of a new address no later than 10 days after moving;
  • reporting in person to a local police agency to have a current picture taken every 3 years (Level 1 and 2 offenders) or every year (Level 3 offenders);
  • notifying DCJS in writing of any school they are attending, enrolled in, living at, or employed – any changes must be reported to DCJS no later than 10 days after the change;
  • providing written information to DCJS about their Internet service providers, Internet screen names and e-mail accounts.

Remember that Level 3 offenders and offenders with a sexual predator designation must personally verify their addresses every 90 days with law enforcement, and law enforcement may take a picture of the offender if their appearance has changed. Any failure to perform the registration obligations is a Class E felony for a first offense and Class D felony for a second or subsequent conviction.

Questions About Sex Offender Registration?

If you are facing sex-related charges, a necessary consequence in New York is sex offender registration. Registration also requires that convicted individuals abide by specific reporting requirements, which could lead to further penalties if ignored. Speak with an attorney immediately if you have questions about New York’s SORA act and your status as an accused offender. Our attorneys at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC can take a look at your situation and help you navigate your sex-related charges.

Speak with one of our attorneys at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC today!