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The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA Hearing)

Westchester County Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

SORA is the section of the New York State Correction Law that requires a convicted offender to register as a sex offender with law enforcement. At the SORA hearing the offender’s “risk level” is determined representing the risk the offender may present to the community.

There are three levels of classification:

  • Level One (Lowest)
  • Level Two
  • Level Three (Highest)

With a Level One finding information about the offender is not made public but for level two and three information including a physical description, address, charges, description of the offense and the sentence are made available to the public.

Level One requires 20 years of registration and Levels two and three require lifelong registration. Also, if the sex offender has been designated a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender, the offender must register for life.

How is a SORA Hearing Conducted?

At the SORA hearing the offender has the right to be represented by counsel and should be represented by counsel. The government is represented by the District Attorney or their designee and they have the burden of proving facts by clear and convincing evidence. The victim(s) may address the Court and reliable hearsay is admissible. The Court in making a determination will decide if there is a likelihood that the offender will re-offend and the harm that would result if the offender were to re-offend.

The Risk Assessment Instrument

The New York State Board of Examiners of Sex offenders uses a point system, category based form to determine the proper classification of the offender. This form is called the Risk Assessment Instrument and designed to be an objective indicator of likelihood to reoffend. There must be supporting information to assign points under each risk factor category.

In some circumstances, usually when an offender is released from jail or prison, the offender is interviewed by the Board of Examiners and they will generate a Risk Assessment Instrument for the sentencing court that is considered presumptively correct but the sentencing court can deviated from the Level recommendation either upwards or downwards.

In other circumstances the Board of Examiners will not have an opportunity to review the case and present their findings on a Risk Assessment Instrument leaving such analysis to the local District Attorney’s Office.

The Risk Assessment Instrument contains the following factors; details about the current offense criminal history, post offense behavior and release environment. Adding the subcategories yields a point total for a risk factor determination.

Below is a sample of the Risk Assessment Form:

Sample Risk Assessment Form

The Westchester County Criminal Defense Attorney’s Role at the SORA Hearing

Preparation is key for proper representation at a SORA hearing. The SORA attorney must have access to all supporting documentation to be considered by the sentencing court, a copy of the Board of Examiner’s file/report, recent case law as it pertains to the factors and, should it be necessary, present to the sentencing court a counter Risk Assessment Instrument with mitigation information. The argument is always for the lowest possible level.

At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our attorneys are experienced with the New York Sex Offender laws and know how to properly conduct a SORA hearing. We utilize every mitigating factor to argue for a Level One finding. If necessary we will have our client’s evaluated by a sex offender specialist to provide favorable testimony before the sentencing judge. Our extensive preparation and aggressive representation provides our clients with the best possible defense.

Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation

We will review your case, discuss your options and present you with a legal strategy. If you or a loved one is facing a SORA hearing or has been arrested for a sex offense call us today to discuss how our attorneys can help. Our offices are conveniently located in downtown White Plains. We also have an office in downtown Peekskill to serve our Northern Westchester Clients.

As a White Plains SORA lawyers we offer a free initial consultation, call us today.

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