Sexual Offender Registration Act Defenses



    Court House ExteriorWhen we get a client who has been accused of a sexual offense and has been convicted of that crime, we prepare for the SORA defense. We are given the risk assessment instrument, which enclaves the various categories such as the nature of the current offense, the individual’s prior criminal history, how he has done post-release, and how he has accommodated to society and whether or not he poses a risk to re-offend. Each of those classifications has criteria within it. For example, in the current offense, we look at the nature of the crime, whether there was any violence, the age of the victim, how many victims there were, how many times the crime was committed. All of those particular categories are ascribed a certain point value, and it is those point values that will determine whether you are a Level 1, a Level 2 or a Level 3 offender, and they’re very close in terms of number, and the ability to knock out one category can actually reduce the charge from a Level 2 to a Level 1.

     The key point, of course, is to demonstrate that in the current offense that the argument argued by the government is not quite correct and that they’ve exaggerated. As an example, we’ve had a case where an individual was found to be a Level 2 offender and it was based on the number of victims. We were able to demonstrate that in fact there was only one victim to the crime, and as a result, the judge at the trial level decided that he wanted to do the right thing and classify the person a Level 2, even though there was a question in terms of the facts complying with the law. We appealed to the Appellate Division, and the Appellate Division reversed the trial court agreeing with our argument which was based solely on the law, and the individual was reduced to a Level 1 offender, a low-risk level, and that decision changed his life.

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