Anyone who is a registered sex offender knows the negative impact it has on your life. Most sex offenders are shunned by society, have problems finding employment or housing, and face other tough issues. Whether you’ve been required to register for 15 years or a lifetime, any time at all spend on the Sex Offender Registry, or SORA, is too much time. Is there a way to get off the list? Perhaps. We’ve included what you need to know below.
First of all, who’s eligible to petition for removal from SORA?
There are basically four scenarios in which someone who has been convicted and is currently on the sex offender registry can petition for removal from SORA through the trial court.
Romeo & Juliet (consent cases)
Juvenile offenders (determination)
SORA registrants convicted of crimes that no longer require registration
Tier I and Tier III offenders no longer considered a threat to public safety
It is important to note that when filing a petition to have your name removed from SORA, you get only one opportunity to get it right. For this reason, it’s recommended you consult a qualified attorney.
Facts pertaining to Michigan
In Michigan, the Sex Offender Registration Act was overhauled nearly five years ago on July 1, 2011. The state progressed to a multilevel system consisting of three Tiers (levels) from what was a basic 25-year registry program for all offenders, regardless of the crime. The Tier a person is placed in depends on such factors as the age of the alleged victim, and the seriousness of the crime.
In addition, juveniles who were younger than 14 and were convicted of a sex crime prior to July 1 of 2011 can now petition to be removed from SORA registration. Prior to the 2011 changes, other than the rare exception, no one could have his or her name removed from the Sex Offender Registry Act.
Romeo & Juliet. Essentially, a Romeo and Juliet case involves two “sweethearts” with at least one being younger than 16 (the age of consent in Michigan) and who went too far in terms of sexual engagement. Both of the parties involved may have been 15, one may have been 16 and the other 14, etc. If one of the participants is older (for instance, 18 or 19) he or she could potentially be charged with statutory rape. As long as the accused was not more than four years older than the victim and it can be proven the 13 to 16 year old victim engaged in a consensual sex act, those convicted can petition to have their name removed from SORA. This applies to convictions prior to July 1, 2011.
Juvenile offenders. As mentioned above, juveniles who were younger than age 14 and who were convicted of a sex crime prior to July 1, 2011 can now petition to be completed removed from SORA registration.
Crimes that no longer require registration with SORA. Prior to July 1, 2011 there were certain offenses which required the offender to register, however registration is no longer required for these offenses which required three convictions. These include MCL §750.167(1)(f) Disorderly Person/Indecent or Obscene Conduct, and MCL §750.335a(2)(a) Indecent Exposure. Those convicted of these offenses prior to the above date can now petition for removal from SORA.
Tier I and Tier III offenders no longer considered a threat to public safety. If a Tier I offender can establish that he/she is no longer a threat to public safety and it has been 10 years since the date of conviction, that individual may petition to discontinue registering. Regarding Tier III offenders, the individual must have been determined guilty as a juvenile, and must establish there is no threat to public safety. In this case, it must have been 25 years from the date of conviction before the offender can petition for removal from SORA.
The court uses certain factors to determine if an offender is no longer considered a threat to public safety, including the nature and severity of the offense, victim impact statement, how old the offender was and his/her maturity level at the time the offense occurred, prior juvenile or adult criminal history, and more.
No doubt every registered sex offender would love having his or her name removed from SORA, however not every case fits the criteria. Petitioning for removal is not simple – and remember, you only have one chance. This is why you must work with a sex offense lawyer who is familiar with the complex and tedious process to ensure your efforts are successful.