The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge DiFiore, over an extensive dissent, determined County Court did not abuse its discretion when it applied a statutory override for infliction of serious injury, adjudicating defendant a level three sex offender, despite the fact defendant was not charged with a sex offense. By statute, a defendant convicted of the unlawful imprisonment of a child is deemed a sex offender, even when no sex offense was committed. Here the child was assaulted (tortured) and seriously injured over the course of a five-day ordeal, but no sex offense was involved. The points assessed under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) criteria rose only to a level one. Because of the extreme violence, County Court applied the statutory override:
… [T]he application of the override for “infliction of serious physical injury,” “automatically result[s] in a presumptive risk assessment of level [three]” (Guidelines at 3). Therefore, properly framed, defendant’s argument is that the SORA court abused its discretion in declining to engage in a downward departure from the presumptive risk level three. We disagree.
Defendant’s sole argument to the SORA court was that the absence of a sexual component to his crime, in and of itself, warranted a level one adjudication. That factor, the existence of which was not in dispute, was considered [when] the Board assessed him 0 points for risk factor 2 — Sexual Contact with Victim. Defendant made no other argument of a mitigating factor to the SORA court in support of a downward departure. In the exercise of its discretion, the SORA court declined to depart from the presumptive risk level three. People v Howard, 2016 NY Slip Op 03415, CtApp 5-3-16
CRIMINAL LAW (SORA, LEVEL THREE ASSESSMENT FOR INFLICTION OF SERIOUS INJURY PROPER EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO SEX OFFENSE COMMITTED DURING THE UNLAWFUL IMPRISONMENT OF A CHILD)/SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (LEVEL THREE ASSESSMENT FOR INFLICTION OF SERIOUS INJURY PROPER EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO SEX OFFENSE COMMITTED DURING THE UNLAWFUL IMPRISONMENT OF A CHILD)/SORA (LEVEL THREE ASSESSMENT FOR INFLICTION OF SERIOUS INJURY PROPER EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO SEX OFFENSE COMMITTED DURING THE UNLAWFUL IMPRISONMENT OF A CHILD)