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Answers To Common Questions About Sex Offense Charges In New York

If you’ve been charged with or accused of a sex crime, you likely know that your rights, freedom and reputation are at stake. You likely have many questions about what to expect at all stages of the process. On this page, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions we receive from prospective clients, with answers based on attorney Jeff Chabrowe’s significant experience as both a defense attorney and a former prosecutor.

While these answers will be useful, there is no substitute for case-specific advice. Therefore, after reading, we invite you to contact The Law Office of Jeffrey Chabrowe and ask us your own questions during a free initial consultation.

What determines if a sex crime is a felony or a misdemeanor?

Sex offenses considered to be the most serious are always charged as felonies. Some lesser offenses are usually considered misdemeanors. However, there are “wobblers” that can be charged either way at the prosecutor’s discretion, depending on the various factors involved. It is always important to get your defense attorney involved as early in the process as possible, but especially so when prosecutors have discretion, as there may be room to influence that decision.

Will I get prison time for my sex crime charges?

Not necessarily. It will depend on the nature of your offense, your prior criminal record and how your charges are resolved. For someone convicted of a violent felony offense, a sentence that involves incarceration is likely. For less-serious offenses, a person may be given probation instead of time behind bars. Your attorney may also be able to help you negotiate a favorable plea deal that keeps you out of jail or prison.

What are the levels of sex crimes in New York?

First, it is important to know the range of criminal charges generally. Misdemeanors can be unclassified, class B or class A, with A being the most severe. Felonies are divided into six categories, or classes. They include, in increasing severity, class E, class D, class C, class B, class A-II and class A-I.

The lowest-level charge for a sex offense in New York is a Class B misdemeanor, an example being sexual abuse in the third degree (§ 130.55). This offense would include subjecting someone to sexual contact without their consent.

The highest-level charge for a sex offense in New York is a Class A-II felony, an example being predatory sexual assault against a child (§ 130.96). In this scenario, the alleged offender would be over the age of 18 and the alleged victim would be under the age of 13.

Will I have to register as a sex offender in New York?

In nearly all cases, if you are convicted of a sex crime in New York, you will be required to register as a sex offender. Typically, you must register with the New York State Sex Offender Registry whether you were convicted in New York or have moved to New York after being convicted in another state. Time spent on the registry ranges from a minimum of 20 years to a maximum of life.

Obviously, the best-case scenario is to avoid having to register by avoiding a conviction, if at all possible. Failing that, there are still options for damage control. Convicted sex offenders are classified as level one, two or three upon being released from custody or sentenced to probation. Level one offenders are considered unlikely to re-offend and present minimal danger to the community. Risk of recidivism and danger to the community increase with levels two and three.

Your assigned level dictates how much information is publicly released. If you are classified as level one, you won’t be listed in the publicly searchable database. Each year, you have the opportunity to petition to have your offender status adjusted, and it can be very helpful to consult an experienced attorney when seeking reclassification.

What are sex offenders not allowed to do in New York?

Perhaps the biggest restriction is where an offender is barred from living while on parole or probation supervision. Such offenders are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school or other facility that provides care to children. In Manhattan and other densely populated areas of New York, that restriction seriously limits a person’s housing options, sometimes resulting in homelessness.

Certain offenders are also barred from certain jobs that would provide access to children (such as a school bus driver or operator of an ice cream truck).

Beyond that, many of the serious limitations convicted offenders face are socially enforced. Being a convicted sex offender can make it very difficult to find or keep employment of any kind, and you may not be approved for housing, even if you are not legally restricted. This is in addition to the shame, stigma, verbal abuse and other collateral consequences that accompany a sex offense conviction.

Get Your Questions Answered By A Highly Experienced Attorney

Based in Manhattan, The Law Office of Jeffrey Chabrowe serves clients throughout the surrounding areas of New York. To schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney who has more than two decades of experience on both sides of the courtroom, call us at 212-235-1510 or submit an online contact form.