Rape is one of the most serious and heavily penalized crimes a person can be charged with in the state or city of New York. This article will explain New York’s enhanced sentencing laws for rape, and cover some basic requirements of sex offender registration. In light of the extremely severe consequences which can result from a rape conviction, it is in your best interest to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been charged with sex crimes in New York City.
Enhanced Penalties for Sexually Motivated Felonies
New York divides criminal offenses into two classes: misdemeanors, which are less serious, and felonies, which are more serious. Rape is always a felony, but can be charged at different levels called “degrees.” Rape in the third degree is a Class E felony, rape in the second degree is a Class D felony, and rape in the first degree – the most serious charge – is a Class B felony.
For most crimes, categorization ends with Class and degree. Rape charges, however, are subject to one additional classification: that of a “sexually motivated felony.” In accordance with NY Penal Law § 130.92 (Sentencing), “When a person is convicted of a sexually motivated felony… and the specified felony is a violent felony offense… the sexually motivated felony shall be deemed a violent felony offense.”
Violent felony offenses – a category which includes rape – are subject to tougher sentencing than non-violent felony offenses (such as mail fraud or possession of stolen property). More specifically, violent felonies are subject to “determinate” or fixed sentencing, for which parole (early release from prison) is not available. With the possibility of parole removed from the equation, the offender serves a mandatory minimum sentence.
Sentencing depends on how the charge is “graded,” or categorized by Class and degree. NY Penal Law § 70.02 establishes the following sentences for violent felony offenses:
- Class D Violent Felony (Rape in the Second Degree) – At least 2 years, with a maximum of 7 years
- Class B Violent Felony (Rape in the First Degree) – At least 5 years, with a maximum of 25 years
Rape in the third degree, a Class E felony, is designated as a non-violent felony. Under certain circumstances, the normal sentence for a Class E non-violent felony can be as low as no prison time at all (with probation), but because rape is classified as a sexually motivated felony, there is a minimum sentence of one and a half years. The maximum sentence for rape in the third degree is four years in prison.
Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
Prison is not the only consequence for a defendant convicted of sex crimes in New York. If a defendant is convicted of rape in the third, second, or first degree, he or she will also be required to register as a sex offender – a classification which often has dramatic and lasting negative impacts upon virtually all aspects of the person’s day-to-day life. Depending on the offender’s threat level, he or she may be required to register for life.
Once a person is added to the Sex Offender Registry, his or her personal information can easily be found online by friends, family, neighbors, potential employers, and anyone else with an internet connection. This information includes the offender’s picture, name, date of birth, height and weight, home address, and license plates. It also includes a description of the offense, the date the person was arrested, information about whether he or she used force or a weapon, the date of the crime, and the date of the conviction.
In addition to having his or her sensitive personal information disclosed to the general public, the offender will also be subject to some restrictions on where he or she may live. While the law cannot control exactly where a registered offender resides, it does prohibit offenders who are on parole or probation from living within 1,000 feet of schools and other facilities that cater mainly to children, such as daycares and playgrounds.
Furthermore, offenders can face significant penalties for failing to update their information/photograph, or otherwise failing to comply with the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Depending on the nature of the violation, the offender can be charged with a Class E or Class D felony, which respectively carry maximum sentences of four and seven years.
If you or someone you know was arrested for rape in New York, it is of the utmost importance that you consult with a skilled and experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t wait another day – call the criminal attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw at (800) 730-0135 to start discussing your next steps in a free, completely confidential legal consultation. We also handle sex crimes related to prostitution in New York. Our attorneys serve clients throughout the city, including Queens, Manhattan, and more.