If a person is placed on the register of sex offenders, they will be subject to reporting obligations, which can be complex. If they do not comply with such obligations, they can be charged with a criminal offence of failing to comply with reporting obligations. The maximum penalty for a charge of failing to comply with reporting obligations is either 2 or 5 years imprisonment, depending on the specific allegation. It is therefore vital for registrable offenders to understand how reporting obligations work and ensure compliance with them.
When does registration occur?
When an adult offender is sentenced for a sexual offence that is defined by the law as a ‘Class 1’ or ‘Class 2’ offence, they automatically become a registrable offender. However, where someone has been found guilty of committing an offence when they were 18 or 19, it may be possible to apply for an order exempting the person from registration. Such an order will only be made if the court is satisfied of various matters, including that the complainant in the matter was at least 14 years old when the offence occurred.
What happens if someone does not comply with their reporting obligations?
If a registrable offender, without reasonable excuse, breaches their reporting obligations, the offence of failure to comply with reporting obligations arises. This offence is found in section 46 of the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004(Vic).
When considering whether a person has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with their reporting obligations, the court hearing the matter must consider:
the person's age;
whether the person has a disability;
whether the notification a person was given of their reporting obligations was adequate, given the person's circumstances; and
any other matter the court considers appropriate.
A defence is available if it is established that, at the time the offence is alleged to have occurred, the person had not received notice, and was otherwise unaware, of the obligation.
The penalty for a failure to comply with reporting obligations can be up to five years' imprisonment.
How long do reporting obligations last?
An adult offender normally must comply with their reporting obligations for a period of eight years, 15 years or for life. However, in the case of a registrable offender who must report for life, they may, after reporting for 15 years, apply to have their reporting obligations suspended. Such an application is made to the Supreme Court, which will only grant a suspension order if it is satisfied that:
the registrable offender poses no risk or a low risk to the sexual safety of one or more persons or of the community; and
suspending the registrable offender’s reporting requirements is in the public interest.
Understanding your reporting obligations
For more advice in your area on compliance with reporting obligations or if you have been charged with a failure to comply with your obligations, contact the Melbourne-based team of specialist lawyers at Papa Hughes now.