The law requires anyone convicted of most sex offenses to register and submit public information in a database known as sex offender registries. This includes their names, ages, addresses, license plate numbers, employment information, and photographs.
In addition, they are prohibited from working in certain occupations or living within 1,000 feet of schools. The NYCLU recently won a major ruling on one of these restrictions.
1. Sexual Exploitation
A conviction for Sexual Exploitation in the First Degree in New York carries serious jail time and a felony record. But it also forces you to register as a sex offender under the state’s Sex Offender Registry Law (SORA), often known as “Megan’s Law.” That means that for the rest of your life, your name, address, occupation, phone number, driver’s license and passport information is publicly available online through the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry search engine.
A New York sex crime lawyer can explain how SORA works and help you determine whether your risk level has been modified. But there is much evidence that sex offender registries stigmatize people and make them less likely to seek counseling or treatment.
In addition to the sex offender registration requirement, New York law requires most employers to perform an individualized assessment before hiring someone with a criminal history. For sex offenders, this means that they must alert the employer of their past crimes and the corresponding risk levels. Employers can refuse to hire someone if they find that the criminal conviction could pose a significant risk to the safety of others or their property.
2. Sexual Harassment
It is a crime in New York to harass another person by touching them inappropriately. Harassment includes forcible touching, such as squeezing or grabbing. It may also include threatening or making derogatory remarks. A conviction for sexual harassment can result in a fine or jail time. It is a misdemeanor if the victim is a minor and a felony if the victim is over 60.
In addition, people convicted of sex offenses are required to register with the state and law enforcement when they live in communities. This requirement, commonly known as Megan’s Law, helps local law enforcement agencies, safeguards communities and makes public information about sex offenders. It also requires that the offender keep authorities apprised of any changes to their physical address and internet accounts or screen names, among other obligations.
Unfortunately, sex offender registries are ineffective public safety tools and have been shown to stigmatize those who commit sexual offenses, leading them to withdraw from society and even increase the likelihood that they will re-offend. The NYCLU has been fighting to curtail one such restriction, and the state’s highest court recently ruled that local governments cannot restrict where registered sex offenders can live.
3. Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a felony punishable by significant jail time and other penalties. It encompasses unwanted sexual contact with others, including rape and other crimes of penetration. It can also refer to crimes that do not involve penetration, such as forcible touching.
A conviction for a sex offense will result in a criminal record and a lifetime of registration under the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). This can lead to social disgrace, loss of relationships, employment, and housing opportunities. Those registered as sex offenders can face harassment and even physical attacks.
For example, SORA prohibits level 3 offenders and those on parole and probation from living within 1,000 feet of a school. A New York sex crime attorney at Bukh Law Firm, PLLC, could explain that these restrictions can make it impossible to find work. They can also make it difficult to rent apartments and even get housing assistance. They can also be a barrier to receiving child support. These restrictive laws have been found to stigmatize people convicted of sex crimes and may actually increase their risk of re-offending.
4. Criminal Sexual Conduct
New York law divides sex offenses into degrees and penalties typically increase with the degree of the crime. A sex offense in the first degree is punishable by up to life in prison.
Criminal sexual conduct involves forcibly touching the sexual or intimate parts of another person without their consent. This includes oral and anal sex. Consent is not possible when the victim is mentally disabled, less than eighteen years old or a child in foster care. The actor must also have intent to gratify their own sexual desires.
When a person is convicted of a Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, they are required to register as a sex offender under section 168 of the Sex Offender Registration Act. This is a lifetime registration requirement.
This designation makes it difficult for these offenders to find jobs because employers will consider them a risk to the public. This can limit a person’s career options and even prevent them from working on certain types of vehicles, like an ice cream truck. A person who is a registered sex offender may not be permitted to live near schools as well.
5. Criminal Sexual Contact
This is an extremely serious crime that carries stiff penalties. It includes committing acts that touch, penetrate, invade, injure or sexually assault the private parts of another person without their consent.
New York law requires that individuals convicted of predatory sexual acts with minors register as a sex offender, and this registration lasts for a minimum of 20 years. A person must disclose his or her conviction in the registration and report to authorities any change in their home address, work or school. In addition, they must submit updated photographs and provide information on all Internet accounts and screen names.
Criminal sexual contact is a class A felony in New York, punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment. A zealous and competent New York criminal defense lawyer can help reduce an offender’s level on the sex offender registry to a lower category, such as Level 1 or 2. This will save considerable community-supervision resources. It will also correct a problem that has plagued the system: the RAI greatly over-predicts an offender’s risk to reoffend, and it keeps people on the registry longer than necessary.