Division of Criminal Justice Services

Frequently Asked Questions: New York State’s Sex Offender Registry


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1. When did the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act take effect?

The law took effect on January 21, 1996. Since then, a number of changes have been made to the original statute. The statute may be found on the New York State Senate website - New York Laws, Corrections Law 168.

2. Who must register as a sex offender?

Anyone who was on parole or probation or incarcerated for a sex offense on January 21, 1996, must register as a sex offender with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services ("DCJS"). In addition, offenders convicted of a sex offense on or after that date, or sentenced to probation, local jail, or state prison after that date, must register upon returning to the community.

Furthermore, offenders who establish residence in New York State but were convicted in other jurisdictions (e.g. federal, military, or another state/country) must register if they have been convicted of an offense that requires registration as determined by the New York State Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders.

Any offender who has moved to New York from another state or country must register with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services no later than 10 days after moving.

3. How are sex offenders classified?

There are three levels, based upon an offender's risk of committing another sex crime and harm to the community: Level 1 (low), Level 2 (moderate), and Level 3 (high).

As a general rule, the sentencing court will determine an offender's risk level at the time of sentencing (in probation cases) or at the time of release from custody (in jail or prison cases).

When an incarcerated offender is set to be released into the community, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders will evaluate the case and provide a risk level recommendation to the court. The court will hold a risk level hearing and assign a level to the offender prior to release. The risk level determines how much information can be provided to the community.

There are also three designations that may be assigned to a sex offender: sexual predator, sexually violent offender, or predicate sex offender. These designations, along with risk level, govern the length of time that an offender must register.

Click here for a chart of risk level and duration of registration.

4. What does "sexual predator" mean?

A sexual predator is an offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense as defined in section 168-a of the Correction Law and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes him or her likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.

5. What does "sexually violent offender" mean?

A sexually violent offender is an offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense as defined in section 168-a of the Correction Law.

6. What does "predicate sex offender" mean?

A predicate sex offender is a sex offender who has been convicted of a sex offense when the offender has been previously convicted of a sex offense.

7. How long does a sex offender stay on the Registry?

Level 1 offenders (low risk) must register for 20 years, unless they have a designation (e.g. sexual predator, sexually violent offender, or predicate sex offender) in which case they must register for life. Level 2 offenders (moderate risk) and Level 3 offenders (high risk) must register for life. More information1.

8. What are the basic obligations of offenders?

  • Report annually where they live by signing and returning an annual verification form to DCJS within 10 days after receiving it.
  • Notify DCJS in writing of a new address no later than 10 days after moving.
  • Report in person to a local police agency to have a current photograph taken every three years (Level 1 and 2 offenders) or every year (Level 3 offenders)
  • Notify DCJS in writing of any institution of higher education they are attending, enrolled, living or employed. Any change in status must be reported to DCJS no later than 10 days after the change.
  • Provide in writing Internet service providers, Internet screen names and e-mail accounts. More information2.
  • Level 3 offenders and offenders with a sexual predator designation must personally verify their addresses every 90 days with law enforcement. Law enforcement may at that time photograph a level 3 offender if that offender’s appearance has changed.

Note: this is a basic list of responsibilities, please refer to Correction Law Article 6-C for more information.

9. Do offenders have to report employment information?

Only Level 2 and 3 offenders have an obligation to provide the address of their employer.

10. What are the consequences if a sex offender fails to comply with SORA requirements?

Failure to perform any of the registration obligations is a felony level crime. A first conviction is punishable as a Class E felony; a second or subsequent conviction is punishable as a Class D felony.

11. Can offenders from other states or countries move to New York?

Yes. They must notify DCJS no later than 10 days of establishing residency in New York, and then the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders reviews their cases to determine if they have to register in New York State. If they are registerable, then a court where the offender resides will hold a hearing to determine his/her risk level.

12. Can New York State offenders move to other states or countries?

Yes. However, they must notify DCJS of their new address no later than 10 days after the move. Additionally, offenders must notify the local police department where they have moved that they are now living in that area and comply with whatever sex offender requirements exist in the new jurisdiction.

13. Does the law restrict where a registered sex offender may live?

The Sex Offender Registration Act does not restrict where a registered sex offender may live.

If an individual is under parole or probation supervision, state law may limit them from living within 1,000 feet of a school or other facility caring for children. Please see state Executive Law Section 259-c (14) and state Penal Law Section 65.10 (4a, 5, 5-a) for more information. Use this link to access state laws for more information.

14. An offender on the Registry is not living at the address listed. Who should I contact?

A sex offender must provide (in writing) DCJS his or her new address no later than 10 days after moving. If you have information that an offender is not living at the reported address, you should contact your local law enforcement agency.

15. Do juvenile sex offenders have to register?

An individual who is adjudicated as a youthful offender or juvenile delinquent is not convicted of a crime, and his or her records are not available to the public. As a result, he or she is not required to be registered in New York State. However, a juvenile offender convicted of a sex crime is required to register.

16. How is information about an offender released?

Information about Level 2 and Level 3 offenders can be obtained by checking the DCJS website, which includes a search for Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders. By law, DCJS cannot list Level 1 offenders on its website.

Effective March 15, 2010, you can now register to receive alerts – via e-mail, text message, fax or telephone – whenever a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender listed on the public subdirectory moves to, or from, a community of interest to you or your family.

You may also call the Sex Offender Registry at 518-457-5837 or 1-800-262-3257 to get information about all levels of sex offenders. When calling the toll-free number, you will have to provide the offender's name, and one of four identifiers (either an exact address, date of birth, social security number or driver's license number).

Additionally, law enforcement may tell the community about sex offenders living in the area. If you learn information about an offender, you may tell others. However, the information may not be used to harass or commit a crime against any person.

17. If I learn that an offender is living in my neighborhood, what do I do to protect my children?

You should not scare them with details. Children may not be able to process the graphic nature of some offenses. DCJS has many teaching tools on its website under Missing Children/Safety for use when talking to children. If you believe that a crime is being committed by a sex offender, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately as you would do in any case of suspected criminal activity.

18. Do I have to hire a sex offender?

Employers must abide by New York State, local, and federal laws when making hiring decisions with regard to individuals with criminal convictions, including individuals convicted of sex crimes. Pursuant to Article 23-A of New York’s Correction Law, most employers are required to conduct an individualized assessment of job applicants with criminal convictions, including those convicted of sex crimes, to determine whether a direct relationship exists between one or more of the prior crimes and the employment sought or whether granting the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.  If an individual has been found guilty of certain crimes, he or she will not be hired for certain jobs (see, Correction Law section 751). For instance, the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) does not allow a sex offender to work on an ice cream truck.

19. Can a sex offender work as a school bus driver?

Certain convictions permanently disqualify a registered sex offender from driving a school bus. More information 3

20. Do I have to rent an apartment to a sex offender?

DCJS cannot provide legal advice about the rights and duties of a landlord. You may wish to contact an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may contact the New York Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service at 1-800-342-3661.

20. As a victim of sexual abuse, where can I get help?

See Information for Victims for more information on where you can seek help.

21. How do I contact the Registry?

Write to:
NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services
Sex Offender Registry
Alfred E. Smith Building
80 South Swan St.
Albany, New York 12210

Telephone: 518-417-3384
E-mail: SORRequests@dcjs.ny.gov

22. Where can I obtain information about individuals who are in a New York State prison or jail?

You may visit the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website, which allows you to obtain information about inmates who are in a New York State prison.

You may also go to VINELink, which is the online version of VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday), the National Victim Notification Network and click on New York State to find individuals in local jails.

1 The duration of registration for a registered sex offender was extended by Chapter 1 of the Laws of 2006.

This law was effective on January 18, 2006. Currently, a Level 1 offender who has not been designated a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender must register for 20  years. A Level 1 offender who has been so designated, as well as all Level 2 and Level 3 offenders regardless of whether they have been so designated, must register for life.

View Risk Level Determination page.

Pursuant to Correction Law Section 168-o, a Level 2 sex offender who has not received a designation of sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender, who has been registered for a minimum period of 30 years, may be relieved of any further duty to register upon the granting of a petition for relief by the sentencing court or the court which made the determination regarding duration of registration and level of notification.

A Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender may petition the sentencing court or the court that made the determination regarding the level of notification for an order modifying the level of notification. The offender should contact his or her attorney, or the court in which he or she was sentenced for information on how to proceed pursuant to Correction Law Section 168-o.

2 The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, added by Chapter 67 of the Laws of 2008, took effect on April 28, 2008.

The Act requires all registered sex offenders to report to DCJS any Internet accounts with Internet service providers belonging to such offenders and e-mail addresses and designations sed by such offenders for the purposes of chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar internet communication. In addition, a registered sex offender must notify the Division no later than 10 days after any change of the above-mentioned Internet information.

Failure to comply is a crime. It is an E felony upon conviction for the first failure to comply with any registration requirement and a D felony for any subsequent conviction. Failure to register, verify or provide the required information as described above may also be the basis for revocation of parole or probation.

The Act authorizes the DCJS, upon request, to provide sex offender internet information to social networking websites which have members under the age of 18. The websites may use the information to prescreen or remove sex offenders from their services and/or advise law enforcement of potential threats to public safety and/or violations of law. Please note that DCJS does not control whether websites remove offenders from their sites, nor does the law prohibit offenders from using the Internet.

The Act requires, as a condition of probation, conditional discharge, conditional release, or parole, mandatory restrictions on a sex offender's access to the Internet in cases where the offender was convicted of a sex offense against a person under the age of 18 or the Internet was used to commit the offense. For instance, the offender will be banned from using the Internet to access pornographic materials and social networking websites. The same restrictions apply to all Level 3 sex offenders on probation, conditional discharge, conditional release, or under parole supervision.

3 See NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law §§ 509-cc (4)(a) &(4)(b).