Sex Offender Registry (SORA) Removal

SORA

 

Being on the Sex Offender Registry affects your employment, housing, and community reputation. Registration requirements last anywhere from 15 years to life. Many find themselves on the registry after being pressured into taking pleas to avoid the potential of facing life in prison, sometimes for minor offenses. Now, through recent amendments of SORA, there is a way to get off “the list.” 

Are You Eligible to Petition for Removal from SORA

There are four instances where a convicted sex offender can petition the trial court to be removed from SORA:

  1. Consent Cases (Romeo & Juliet)
  2. No longer a threat to public safety (Tier I and Tier III only)
  3. Juvenile Adjudications (Tier III only)
  4.  Convicted of an offense that is no longer a listed offense

A. Romeo and Juliet cases

These are the consent cases, aka statutory rape. Under Michigan law, anyone under the age of 16 lacks the capacity to “consent” to sexual acts regardless of their willingness or how many times they said “yes.” If someone engages in sexual acts with someone under the age of 16 and the parents decide to pursue charges, that person can be convicted and forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, even if he was a minor as well. This is a strict liability crime meaning that it is no legal defense if the girl told him she was 16, he reasonably believed she was 16, or even if she presented an ID that stated she was 16. Many high school students with promising futures have found themselves convicted of a felony and placed on “the list” this way.

The good news is that now through recent amendments to the Sex Offender Registry Act, there is a way to forever remove this scarlet letter and move on with your life. There are three requirements to qualify for a hearing:

1)    The “victim” consented

2)    The “victim” was at least 13 years old

3)    There was no more than a four year age difference between the “victim” and the “offender”

B. Tier I and Tier III Reduction in Registration Time

  1. Tier I Offenders– may petition to discontinue registering under SORA after 10 years from the date of conviction if they can establish they are no loner a threat to public safety
  2. Tier III– if adjudicated as a juvenile, the offender may petition after 25 years from the date of conviction if they can establish they are no longer a threat to public safety
  3. Tier III– if convicted as an adult, sorry but there is no relief
  4. Tier II– no relief for any offenders

How the Court Determines if the Offender is no Longer a Threat to Public Safety

To discontinue registering under SORA, the trial court will look at the following factors to determine if the offender is an ongoing public threat

  • Age and maturity level of the offender at the time of the offense
  • Age and maturity level of the victim at the time of the offense
  • nature of the offense
  • severity of the offense
  • Prior juvenile or adult criminal history
  • Likelihood that offender will commit further listed offenses
  • Victim impact statement
  • Any other relevant information (support letters from friends, family, employers, educational achievements, occupational awards)

Do I Need to Complete a Sex Offender Treatment Program

Sometimes the court will impose this requirement as a condition of sentencing or as a prerequisite for petitioning for removal. Any program that is approved by the United States Attorney General Office will suffice. However, the trial court may waive this requirement for your removal petition if it was not a condition imposed by the sentencing judge. However, successful completion can never hurt your chances.

Why You Need a Lawyer

As you can tell, petitioning for removal from SORA is not an easy task. Not only is it very cumbersome and tedious in terms of paperwork, preparation for the hearing, anticipating objections from the prosecutor, but you only get one shot at it. You can only petition once and if you are unsuccessful, you will have to register as a sex offender for the duration of your requirement which can often mean the rest of your life. This petition is the only second chance you get to remove that looming dark shadow known as SORA from your life. You need a skilled and experienced Michigan Sex Offender Registry Removal attorney to assist you. Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to our Sex Crimes Attorney at (517) 614-1983, Take the first step in clearing the pathway for your life.