An accused charged with a
sex crime must not only understand the potential criminal penalties associated with
the sex crime charged, such as sentences of prison, probation or a combination
of both prison and probation, but also, must be mindful of additional
consequences which may flow under the statute commonly referred to as
Megan's Law. A client charged with a sex crime must discuss with
criminal defense counsel whether the particular charged crime is subject to the registration
and notification requirements under New York Correction Law §168-a
of the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA).
SORA covers enumerated misdemeanors as well as felony sex crimes. The statute
also covers offenses committed in other states and under federal law provided
"all of the essential elements" of the crime committed in the
foreign jurisdiction are included in any of the enumerated crimes covered
under New York's SORA.
A defendant charged with Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree under
subdivisions 2, 3 or 4 of PL §250.45 may escape the SORA requirements
by motion to the court based upon an argument that registration would
be "unduly harsh and inappropriate" because of "the nature
and circumstances of the crime and to the history and character of the
The SORA statute classifies sex offenders under a three-tiered classification
system with 3 being the highest and worst classification requiring lifetime
registration and other ongoing reporting and notification requirements,
while a 1 classification (lowest and best) triggers a 20 year registration
period with less onerous reporting and notification requirements. Also
level one sex offenders do not get included in the sex offender database
available online to the public.
Prior to making a decision about whether to enter a guilty plea to a sex
offense, the accused should consult with an experienced
New York City criminal defense attorney for advice about whether the charged crime is covered by SORA, and, if
so, where along the three-tiered classification spectrum the accused is
likely to fall given: (1) the defendant's background, (2) the nature
of the charged crime(s) and (3) other relevant circumstances which may
mitigate or aggravate the court's view of the risk posed to society
by the accused.
The purpose of SORA is not to punish, but rather, New York's highest
court has explained the purpose of SORA: "to protect the public from
the danger of recidivism posed by sex offenders, to assist the criminal
justice system to identify, investigate, apprehend and prosecute sex offenders,
and to comply with the Federal Crime Control Act…"
People v. Stevens, 91 NY2d 270, 275 (1998)(internal quotes omitted).
If you have been arrested for a sex offense of any kind, please
contact our office right away to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal