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The Appellant argues in this Court that he is not subject to SORA


In this Sex Crime, following a March 1983 incident in which he violently assaulted a neighbor, Appellant pleaded guilty to one count of sex abuse in the first degree and one count of assault in the second degree, in satisfaction of all charges. He was sentenced to 2 to 6 years’ imprisonment on each criminal count, to run concurrently.

In February 1987, while on parole supervision, Appellant attacked and stabbed an acquaintance in her home. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the second degree, in full satisfaction of an indictment that included first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy counts. He was sentenced, as a second violent felony offender, to 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment.

According to a Nassau Sex Crimes lawyer, when Appellant was released in 2002, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders (the Board) determined that he was required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), citing his 1983 sex abuse conviction. The Board calculated a total risk assessment score of 80 points, on the basis of the 1983 incident, making Appellant presumptively a level two (moderate risk) offender. The Board however recommended an upward departure to level three, because of “the brutal sexual and physical assault” Appellant committed in 1987. He filed an objection to the Board’s recommended SORA assessment level, arguing, among other things, that SORA does not apply to him because his sentence for the sexual abuse conviction “was due to expire” before SORA became effective in 1996.

The County Court rejected that argument and designated Appellant a level three sex offender. The court agreed with the Board’s level three recommendation, based on two overrides, “offender inflicted serious physical injury or caused death” and “offender has made a recent threat that he will reoffend by committing a sexual or violent crime.”

The Appellate Division affirmed County Court’s level three designation. Noting the serious physical injury appellant had inflicted on his first victim, the Appellate Division concluded that County Court had properly determined that Buss was a presumptive level three sex offender by application of the serious injury override. Without discussion, the Appellate Division rejected as meritless Appellant’s claim that SORA did not apply to him in the first instance.

The Court granted leave and now affirm.

The Appellant argues in this Court that he is not subject to SORA because his 1983 sentence was “due to expire” or “scheduled to expire” before SORA became effective. He does not dispute that his 1987 sentence ran consecutively to the undischarged part of his 1983 sentence. He contends that because the undischarged portion of the sentence he received in 1983 was completed in 1989, he was no longer serving a sentence for a sex crime.

The People do not argue that Buss would be subject to SORA even if he were no longer serving a sentence for his sex abuse conviction when SORA became effective. Instead, they rely on Penal Law provisions which, they argue, show that Buss was still serving a sex offense sentence when SORA took effect. The People cite Penal Law § 70.30(1)(b), which directs how terms of imprisonment are to be calculated when a defendant is serving multiple, indeterminate sentences that run consecutively.

Penal Law § 70.30 provides for the calculation of terms of imprisonment by merging of concurrent sentences and addition of consecutive sentences. Although the primary function of the statute is to allow for the ready calculation of parole eligibility, we find it reasonable to apply section 70.30 to the question of whether a prisoner who has been given multiple sentences is subject to all his sentences for the duration of his term of imprisonment.

Concurrent and consecutive sentences are governed by different methods of calculation.

If two or more indeterminate sentences are consecutive, then, with certain limitations not relevant here, the minimum and maximum sentences are added to form aggregate minimum and aggregate maximum wholes (Penal Law § 70.30[1][b]). In concurrent sentencing, on the other hand, “[t]he maximum term or terms of the indeterminate sentences and the term or terms of the determinate sentences shall merge in and be satisfied by discharge of the term which has the longest unexpired time to run” (Penal Law § 70.30[1][a]). Practically, the difference in prison term may be very significant to a defendant, depending on whether he was sentenced to consecutive or concurrent sentences. Nevertheless, in both situations, the Penal Law provides for a method whereby two or more sentences are made into one: the result either way is a single, indeterminate sentence. Underlying Penal Law § 70.30 is the proposition that concurrent sentences and consecutive sentences yield single sentences, either by merger or by addition.

The Court held that for SORA purposes a prisoner serving multiple sentences is subject to all the sentences, whether concurrent or consecutive, that make up the merged or aggregate sentence he is serving. Buss was therefore still serving a sentence for his 1983 sex crime at the time SORA became effective in 1996.

The primary goals of SORA, one of which is to “protect the public from the danger of recidivism posed by sex offenders”, are best served by recognizing that a person who is returned to prison while on parole for a sex offense continues to be subject to his sex offense sentence for the duration of the aggregate sentence. Common sense and experience dictate that a defendant’s conduct while on parole is a reliable predictor of the risk he poses to society. In 1983, Appellant committed a crime of a type that SORA subsequently denominated a sex offense. In 1987, while on parole, he demonstrated himself still willing to disregard the law. It is consistent with SORA’s aims that Buss was required to identify himself as a sex offender when ultimately released from prison, even though his sex offense sentence would have expired before SORA became effective had he not committed his later crime.

Defendant’s remaining contentions before us lack merit. Consequently we affirm his level three designation.

The order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed, without costs.

Order affirmed, without costs.

Sexual abuse incidents will lead to a traumatic experience to the helpless victims. Some of these victims recovered, however, most of them does not. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, we counsel, advice, and protect the rights of these victims. Through our skilled Nassau County Sex Crimes attorneys, we will guide and inform the rights of these victims and how to pursue an action before the Courts of Justice. With the help of our Nassau County Criminal lawyers, we will see to it that the assailant will be punished in order for him to pay the illegal and immoral acts which was done to the helpless victim. Call us now for more inquiries.

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