As a criminal defense attorney, we often find ourselves in the middle of topics of conversation that the typical citizen probably doesn't exactly feel comfortable with. Here on the blog we seek to offer information that helps the public better understand the New York legal system. Unfortunately, the reality is that sexual assault is a real topic that affects millions of people nationwide. According to the National Organization for Women NYC, every 98 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
If you or someone you know was affected by anything to do with sexual assault, you should contact the authorities immediately, and there are resources to help heal.
What is the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA)
To try and help the public be more aware of the perpetrators of these crimes, New York State enacted the Sex Offender Registration Act. (SORA) In 1995 Governor George E. Pataki signed the law into effect, thus creating a Sex Offender Registry within the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. The primary objectives of this law are to:
1. Require Sex Offenders to Register with The State
2. Provide Information to the Public About Certain Sex Offenders Living in their Communities.
What is a "Sex Offender?"
When someone is convicted or prosecuted in a New York State for a crime related to sex or exploitation, they are mandated to be registered in the database, as a sex offender. Crimes like sexual assault, abuse, molestation, exploitation of a minor, are what lead to a person being registered, but even an attempt at a crime of this nature, if proven, results in a criminal conviction.
Sex Offenders are categorized in the registry by three levels, based on the offender's risk of committing another sex crime and harm to the community: Level 1 (low), Level 2 (moderate), Level 3 (high).
The court may assign one of the following three risk levels:
- Level 1 (low risk of repeat offense), or
- Level 2 (moderate risk of repeat offense), or
- Level 3 (high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists).
Usually, this assessment is done by the judge at the time of sentencing (in probation cases), or at the time of release from custody (in jail or prison cases). When the offender is set to be released into the community, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders evaluates the case and provides a risk level recommendation to the court. A hearing is held to assign the level of the offender prior to the release, which determines how much information can be provided to the community.
What is a "Sexual Predator?"
Beyond the three levels of risk, there are also three designations that may be assigned to a sex offender. Sexual predator, sexually violent offender, or predicate sex offender. These designations, coupled with risk level designate how long the person must register.
From NY.GOV- A sexual predator is an offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense as defined in section 168-a of the Correction Law and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes him or her likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.
In the event that the sex offender has been designated any of these 3 designations, they must register for life.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS A VICTIM INVOLVED IN ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CASES, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES. YOU HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS, AND NO VICTIM SHOULD FEEL UNHEARD.
UTILIZE THESE RESOURCES
Stay tuned to the blog each month for more information on New York State law, and what you need to know.
Disclaimer: This blog post and the quickly outlined examples do not apply to everyone. Past results do not guarantee future success. Each case is unique according to its own facts. This post is not legal advice, for that you need to get in contact with an experienced lawyer.