Will the new Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act (SORA) allow you or a loved one to be removed from the sexual-offenders registry?  In many situations, the answer is yes. In others, it is unclear.

We have been closely tracking the changes to Michigan’s SORA law, and discussed these changes extensively on this blog.  These changes will go into full effect on July 1, 2011.  But what can this new law do for you if you have already been convicted of a listed offense and are on the registry?  If you were adjudicated as a juvenile offender, meet the “Romeo & Juliet” exception, or currently register for an offense that no longer requires registration, the new law allows you to petition the court to be removed. The experts and Kirsch & Satawa can help you get off the registry if you qualify under the statute.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The new law has revamped the procedure for petitioning for removal from the SORA, and has also added three new situations where a registrant can petition for complete removal.  Some defendants can petition the court to lower the registration requirement from 25 years to 10 years under certain circumstances.  Current MCL 28.728(c).  In addition, certain defendants can petition for complete removal from SORA.

First, juvenile offenders who were less than 14 years old at the time of their offense are eligible to petition for complete removal from the registry. New MCL 28.728(c)(3), (15)(a).

In addition, offenders who meet the “Romeo & Juliet” exception can also petition for complete removal.  New MCL 28.728(c)(3), (14).  Generally, to qualify the defendant must be able to show that the “victim” consented to the act, the victim was older than 13, and the defendant was no more than 4 years older than the “victim.”

One might think that defendants convicted of offenses that no longer require registration are automatically removed from the registry, but this is not the case.  The new law requires a petition for removal for current registrants whose offenses no longer require registration.  New MCL 28.728(c)(3), (15)(b).  Once a petition is filed, the court will conduct a hearing to determine whether the registrant meets the necessary conditions for removal.  In all situations, the “victim” of the offense has a right to attend the hearing and be heard.

WHAT CAN I DO?

The petition requirements can be tricky.  Like any legal issue, it is best to seek out the aid of an attorney who is an expert in an area of law to handle the process, complete the necessary filings, and represent you at the petition hearing.  At Kirsch & Satawa, we’ve been handling sex-offender cases for the better part of 20 years.  We are singularly qualified to work with you through the petitioning process.  If you believe you qualify for removal, please contact us.  We would be delighted to sit down and discuss your situation.

Mark A. Satawa practices in the area of criminal defense, specializing in sex crimes. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (www.NACDL.org), and is a frequent continuing legal education speaker on sex offenses, most recently at the Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminar on Proven Defense Strategies for Challenging Criminal Sexual Conduct Cases.