Skip to Content

Sex Crimes and the New York Sex Offender Registration Act


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 defendant."

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 attorneys.

Share To: