A sex crime is a crime involving any form of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, unlawful sexual behavior, or illegal pornography. The commission of any sex crime, whether it be indecent exposure or sexual assault, can result in a person being labeled a sex offender.
Ever since Congress enacted Megan’s Law in 1994, states have been required to have a public sex offender registry, most of all are online these days. It is up to each state individually to decide which sex crimes require registration.
How Does Sex Offender Registration Work in New York?
In New York, not all sex offenders are required to register publicly on the online Sex Offender Registry. Only those who have committed a "registerable sex offense" have to register.
Examples of a what is considered a registerable sex offense include:
- Patronizing a Prostitute
- Child pornography
- Sexual assault
- Sex crimes against children
In New York, sex offenders are classified into three levels based on the court’s determination on whether or not the offender will commit another sex crime: Level 1 (low risk), Level 2 (moderate), and Level 3 (high). Within these three levels there are also three designations that can be assigned to a sex offender: (1) sexual predator; (2) sexually violent offender; (3) predicate sex offender.
These different classifications determine how often an offender much register for an for how long. Level 1 offenders must register for 20 years, unless they have a designation. If a sex offender has any designation or have been classified as either a level 2 or level 3, the offender must register for life.
All offenders must re-register with local enforcement annually, except for level 3 offenders and those with a designation. Level 3 offenders and offenders with a designation must re-register every 90 days.
In New York, only level 2 and level 3 offenders are required to register with the online public registry. If you are a level 1 offender, you still must register with local law enforcement, but your information will not be made available to the public.
How Can I Be Excluded from the Public Sex Offender Registry?
New York, compared to a couple of other states, actually has a clear procedure for people seeking to be removed from the public registry. There are two types of petitions: (1) modification of risk level; and (2) release from duty to register.
If a level two offender files a petition for modification and it gets approved, the offender is no longer required to be listed on the public registry, but must still continue to register. This is when the offender can file a petition to be released from the duty to register. Without the modification, New York allows level 2 offenders who have not received a designation and who have been registered for at least 30 years to file a petition to be released from the duty to register for life.
There is no equivalent provision for a level 3 offender, as such it seems that in order to be released from the duty to register a level 3 offender must first petition to have their risk level modified and then petition for release.
Can I Get My Criminal Records Erased?
Depending on whether or not you meet the necessary criteria, you may be able to seal your criminal records, otherwise known as expungement. Eligibility for expungement varies from state to state, but if you only committed a minor sex crime that did not involve violence, you might be able to get that record expunged. That prevents everyone, other than law enforcement, from seeing your past criminal history.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been charged with a crime it is important that you seek legal assistance immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in New York will be able to defend you in court and give you the best chance of being found not guilty.
If you have already been convicted and have served your time for a minor sex crime and no longer wish for that information to show up on your record, you should try to see if you qualify for removal from the public registry and should also go to a lawyer to start the process of sealing your criminal record.