The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Curran, over a comprehensive two-judge dissenting opinion by Judge Wilson, determined that the sex offender risk-level assessment proceedings must be held 30 days prior to a defendant’s release from confinement, regardless whether the state is considering instituting, or already has instituted, proceedings to civilly commit the defendant pursuant to the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SORA):
The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) (Correction Law § 168 et seq.) provides that a sex offender “shall” be classified into one of three risk level categories “ days prior to discharge, parole or release” (Correction Law § 168-n ). The central question presented by these appeals is whether, for purposes of SORA, this deadline is properly measured from the date an offender is released from confinement by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), despite pending or contemplated proceedings to civilly commit the offender under the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) (Mental Hygiene Law § 10.01 et seq.). We hold that, under a plain reading of SORA, the 30-day deadline for conducting a risk level classification hearing must be measured from an offender’s release by DOCCS upon the completion of a prison sentence, irrespective of whether the state is considering instituting, or has already instituted, proceedings under SOMTA. We further hold that offenders are not denied due process by having a SORA hearing at a time when they may be civilly committed under SOMTA. People v Boone, 2024 NY Slip Op 00928, CtApp 2-22-24
Practice Point: SORA risk-level-assessment proceedings are to be held 30 days prior to defendant’s release from confinement and cannot be delayed because the state is considering or has instituted proceedings for civil commitment.