The New York State Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), has added a very serious consequence to the commission of many crimes. The requirements of SORA apply to both New York State convictions and to conviction from other states, if the convicted person is or becomes a New York resident. Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case discussing whether a defendant who was convicted for the murder of his 13-year-old sister in Virginia was required to register under the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Ultimately, the court concluded that registration was not required based on the fact that the defendant was not required to register as a “sex offender” in Virginia.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was convicted for the murder of his 13-year-old sister in Virginia back in 1989. It was undisputed that there was no sexual element involved in the killing. However, as a result of that conviction, the defendant was required to register for life under Virginia’s Crimes Against Minors Registry Act, which required registration for numerous offenses, including some that were not sexual in nature.
After serving his sentence, the defendant moved to New York. Upon arriving, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders was notified and required the defendant to register as a Level III offender. The defendant challenged the registration requirement.
The Court’s Opinion
The court began by explaining the “long-arm” section of the SORA statute. Under section 168-a(2)(d), someone convicted for an out-of-state offense is required to register in New York if they were convicted of “a felony in any other jurisdiction for which the offender is required to register as a sex offender in the jurisdiction in which the conviction occurred.”
The court explained that this requirement has two parts. First, whether the out-of-state crime is a felony. And second, whether the out-of-state offense required the defendant to register as a sex offender.
Here, the defendant’s conviction for murder was certainly a felony, so the court moved on to the second prong of the analysis. The court acknowledged that the defendant was required to register in Virginia; however, after reviewing the Virginia statute and the included list of registerable offenses, the court noted that the Virginia legislature’s concern in passing the statute was not just to protect children from sexual predators, but from all violent crime. Thus, the court held that the requirement that a person register under the act is not requiring they register as a sex offender, but as a “perpetrator of a violent, non-sexual, crime against a minor.”
Thus, because the defendant was not required to register as a sex offender in Virginia, he was not required to register under SORA.
Have You Required to Register Based on an Out-of-State Offense?
If you have recently moved to New York and been informed that you will need to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, contact the dedicated New York criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, we help our clients defend their freedom against the serious charges that have been brought against them. We have decades of experience handling all types of New York criminal cases, and provide free consultations to discuss how we can help you or your loved one. To learn more, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation today.