Megan's Law

MEGAN’S LAW

(CORRECTION LAW SECTION 168)
 
            The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), commonly referred to as “Megan’s Law,” sets out the procedures for determining the duration of a convicted sex offender’s registration and the level of community notification.
 
REGISTRATION AND NOTIFICATION
 
            Once a defendant has been convicted and sentenced for a designated sex offense, the defendant must be registered as a sex offender and the Court must determine the offender’s risk level. Registration occurs at the time of sentencing or the defendant’s release from custody. The risk level determination is made after a hearing conducted by the sentencing court. 
 
            REGISTRATION: Any person who was incarcerated or on parole or probation for a designated sex offense as of January 21, 1996 is required to register with DCJS. Any person convicted of a designated sex offense committed after January 21, 1996 is also required to register. 
 
            A Sex Offender Registration Form must be completed and signed by the defendant. In cases which the defendant is sentenced to probation, a conditional discharge or a “split” sentence of jail and probation or conditional discharge, the registration form is completed by the Court and signed by the defendant at the time of sentencing. IN cases in which the defendant is sentenced to a jail or state prison term, the registration form is completed by the facility in which the defendant is incarcerated and is signed by the defendant at the time of his release.
           
            The duration of registration will depend on the offender’s Risk Level and whether the offender is adjudicated a “sexual predator,” “sexually violent offender,” or “predicated sex offender.” A “sexual predator” is a sex offender who has committed a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the offender likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses. A “sexually violent offender” is a sex offender who has committed a sexually violent offense. A “predicate sex offender” is a sex offender convicted of an offense requiring registration who has a prior conviction for a registerable offense. 
 
            Generally, Level One and Two offenders must register for 10 years and verify his or her address with DCJS annually. Level Three Offenders must register for life, verify his or her address with DCJS annually and personally verify his or her address with a local law enforcement agency every 90 days. A Level Three offender may petition the court for relief from the registration requirements after 13 years. However, any offender, regardless of risk level, who is adjudicated a “sexual predator,” “sexually violent offender,” or “predicated sex offender” must register for life and verify his or her address with DCJS annually with no opportunity to be relieved of that obligation. In addition, a “sexual predator” must verify his or her address with a local law enforcement agency ever 90 days.
 
            Registered sex offenders are required to notify DCJS of their address and whether they are attending, residing or employed at any institution of higher education. In addition, any change of address or change of status with an institution of higher education must be reported within 10 days.
 
            NOTIFICATION: The offender’s risk level determines whether and to what extent the community can be notified about the offender’s presence in the community. The risk level determination is made by the sentencing court after conducting a hearing on the risk level recommendation made by either the prosecutor (if the defendant is sentenced to probation, a conditional discharge or a “split” sentence of jail and probation or conditional discharge) or the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders (If the defendant is sentenced to a jail or prison term.)
 
            The Board of Examiners has developed guidelines and procedures to assess the risk that a sex offender will commit a new crime and the harm that would be inflicted if there is a new offense. The risk level is calculated by assessing points for a number of significant factors relating to the offense underlying the offender’s current conviction, his or her criminal and substance abuse history, any post-release behavior and the environment in which the defendant will be residing once released. There are also certain factors, such as whether the offender has a prior conviction for a felony sex offense, caused serious physical injury or death to his victim, has made threats to re-offend or has been diagnosed with a mental abnormality that decreases the offender’s ability to control impulsive sexual behavior, that create a presumption that the defendant poses a high risk to re-offend.
 
            LEVEL ONE (Low risk offenders): Law enforcement officers may not disseminate any information about the offender to the public. The 900 telephone number can confirm that the offender is on the registry and that his risk of re-offending is low.
 
            LEVEL TWO (Moderate risk offenders): Law enforcement officers and the 900 telephone number can provide the Zip Code, but not complete address of the offender.  Law enforcement officers can also provide a photograph and background information, including the offender’s crime of conviction, modus operandi, type of victim targeted and description of any special conditions imposed on the offender to any entity with vulnerable populations related to the nature of the offense committed by the offender. The 900 telephone number can also provide this information to any caller who properly identifies himself or herself and who inquires properly regarding a specific offender. Any entity receiving such information may disclose or further disseminate such information at its discretion.
 
            LEVEL THREE (High risk offenders): Law enforcement officers may disseminate relevant information about the offender, including exact address, photograph and background information, including the offender’s crime of conviction, modus operandi, type of victim targeted and description of any special conditions imposed on the offender to any entity with vulnerable populations related to the nature of the offense committed by the offender. The 900 telephone number can also provide this information to any caller who properly identifies himself or herself and who inquires properly regarding a specific offender. Any entity receiving such information may disclose or further disseminate such information at its discretion. This information will also be maintained in the State’s “Subdirectory of High Risk Sex Offenders” and the information will be distributed to any member of the public upon written request.
 
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS:
 
Statewide Sex Offender Registry:          1-900-288-3838
                                                       http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us
 
Broome County Sheriff’s Office:             http://www.gobroomecounty.com/sheriff

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