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What is The Sex Offender Registration Act & SORA Hearing?

Under New York State Correction Law, the Sex Offender Registration Act or SORA requires a convicted person to register with law enforcement as a sex offender. The offender’s “risk level” is established at the SORA hearing. The risk level means the amount of future risk the offender may present to the community.

The 3 SORA Classifications

  1. Level One (Lowest)

The offender’s information is not made public. The registration lasts 20 years.

  1. Level Two

The offender’s information, including a physical description, address, charges, description of the offense and the sentence are made available to the public. This is a lifelong registration.

  1. Level Three (Highest)

The offender’s information, including a physical description, address, charges, description of the offense and the sentence are made available to the public. This is a lifelong registration.

Note: 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.

The SORA Hearing

Representation at the SORA hearing is crucial and no individual should go to a SORA hearing without counsel. The District Attorney has the burden of proving facts by clear and convincing evidence. Typically, the Court will allow the victim(s) to address the Court and reliable hearsay is admissible. The Court considers whether there is a likelihood that the offender will reoffend and the harm that would result if the offender were to re-offend.

Assessing Risk Using a Point System

The New York State Board of Examiners of Sex offenders uses a point system 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. Points are assigned under each risk factor category based upon supporting information.

Depending on the circumstances, the offender may be interviewed by the Board of Examiners to complete the Risk Assessment or the analysis may be done by the District Attorney’s Office. When done by the Board of Examiners, the Risk Assessment Instrument is generated and provided to the sentencing court. The Risk Assessment Instrument is considered presumptively correct; however, the sentencing court can deviate either upwards or downwards from the Level recommendation.

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.

Having a Westchester Criminal Defense Lawyer at the SORA Hearing

Just like preparing for a trial, sound preparation is a priority to properly represent a client at a SORA hearing. At Riebling & Payton, PLLC, we demand access to all supporting documentation to be considered by the sentencing court, a copy of the Board of Examiners file/report, recent case law as it pertains to the factors and, when it is necessary, we will prepare and provide the sentencing court a counter Risk Assessment Instrument with mitigating information. It is our goal to achieve the lowest possible level.

We do this by utilizing our experience and knowledge of the New York Sex Offender laws and the SORA hearing process. When analyzing a particular case, we review every mitigating factor to justify a Level One finding. In some instances, we will have our clients evaluated by a sex offender specialist to provide favorable evidence to the sentencing judge. We have found that this approach provides our clients with the best possible defense at the SORA hearing.

Use Our Free Case Evaluation to Find Out How We Will Help

In reviewing your case, we will discuss your various options and develop a legal strategy tailored for your situation. Facing a SORA hearing or being arrested for a sex offense is something that should not be handled alone. Call us today to discuss how our attorneys can help. Riebling & Payton, PLLC have offices conveniently located in White Plains, NY and Mount Kisco, NY in order to serve our clients throughout Westchester County.

Learn from the Top Criminal Defense Attorneys Co-Author of Best-Selling Book

When it comes to Criminal Defense in Westchester County, NY, Stephen Riebling literally wrote the book as the National Best-Selling Co-Author of “A Cup of Coffee with 10 of the Top Criminal Defense Attorneys in the United States”.

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