OKLAHOMA SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY REMOVAL
For many people convicted of sex crimes in Oklahoma, the most difficult portion of the sentence is the mandatory sex offender registration that follows. For 15 years, 25 years, or even the rest of their lives, people convicted of sex offenses must register with local law enforcement, endure public notification or availability of the offense for which they were convicted, and suffer numerous restrictions on where they can live, work, and spend their leisure time.
For some, sex offender registration means never getting to volunteer at their own children’s schools. For others, it means never playing at the park with their own grandchildren. These restrictions apply even if the crime of which they were convicted did not involve children.
What many people fail to realize is that sex offender registration may not have to be permanent. In Oklahoma, sex offender registry removal is available to certain people convicted of sex crimes who meet very specific criteria. While not everyone is eligible to have his or her name removed from the Oklahoma sex offender registry, it is possible for some. The relief of no longer being branded a “sex offender” can be immeasurable, so if you feel that you may fall under one of the three categories for sex offender registry removal, it is worth your while to contact us to discuss your case. We may be able to help you finally shed the limitations and stigma that accompany sex offender registration.
Romeo and Juliet
The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16. No one under the age of 16 has the legal capacity to consent to sex with anyone over the age of 18. If the minor is under the age of 14, even seemingly “consensual” sex is charged as first degree rape. If the minor involved is aged 14 or 15, the adult partner is charged with second degree rape, commonly known as “statutory rape.”
This can get complicated in relationships where one partner is just a little too old and one partner is just a little too young to have a legally consensual sexual relationship. However, the law does not make exceptions for conviction of second degree rape. Unfortunately, second degree rape is classified as a Level 3 sex offense—one that is deemed to be high risk and which carries lifetime sex offender registration as a penalty. This means that a 19-year-old who has sex with a 15-year-old faces the same sex offender registration as someone convicted of child molestation, forcible rape, or child rape.
Although a person convicted of second degree rape under such circumstances still has a felony sex crime conviction and is still required to register as a sex offender for life, the Oklahoma legislature has recognized that it seems unjust to brand a 19-year-old kid as a sex offender for life when his or her partner was only a few months shy of the legal ability to consent.
Under the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act, there is a provision known as the Romeo and Juliet Clause which may allow a young person convicted of statutory rape to have his or her name removed from the sex offender registry.
The Romeo and Juliet provision in 57 O.S. § 590.2 specifies three criteria which a person must meet in order to be considered for sex offender registration removal:
- The person was convicted of second degree rape or rape by instrumentation.
- The second degree rape or rape by instrumentation charge is the only crime for which the person is required to register as a sex offender.
- The person was not more than four (4) years older than the victim aged 14 to 17 at the time of the violation.
If these conditions apply to you, contact Coventon Criminal Defense at once to begin your petition for removal from the Oklahoma sex offender registry.
Out of State Convictions Prior to 1989
In 1982, John Hendricks was convicted in California of a crime which would be the equivalent of the Oklahoma offense lewd acts with a child under 16. It would not be until seven years later, in 1989, that Oklahoma would enact the Sex Offender Registration Act, which required those convicted of sex crimes to register as a sex offender.
In 2005, the state legislature amended SORA to read that anyone convicted of a sex crime after November 1, 1989 (when SORA was enacted) and anyone currently serving a sentence for a sex crime, regardless of date of conviction, must register as a sex offender in Oklahoma.
Four years later, in 2009, Hendricks moved to Oklahoma and was informed that he must register as a sex offender. He complied with the demand but protested, denying that the state’s law was applicable to him. He argued that the state’s interpretation of SORA was not applied equally to people convicted in other states who moved into Oklahoma. After all, if he had been convicted in Oklahoma in 1982, SORA, which was enacted in 1989, would not have applied to him. If he had not been serving a sentence in 2005, when SORA was amended to include those currently serving a sentence, then he should not have to register.
The court agreed in Hendricks v. Jones that the unequal application of SORA to those who were convicted in state and those who were convicted out of state was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
If you have been convicted of a sex offense in another state prior to November 1, 1989, you were not currently serving a sentence for a sex crime or any form of probation or parole as of November 1, 2005, and you were subsequently required to register as a sex offender upon moving to Oklahoma, sex offender registration may be a violation of your constitutional rights. Contact a sex offender registry removal lawyer for help getting your name off the Oklahoma sex offender registry.
Sex Offender Risk Level Assessment
In 2007, the state of Oklahoma enacted a sex offender leveling tool in accordance with federal requirements under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Oklahoma’s sex offender risk level assessment is strictly offense based:
- Those convicted of Level 1 sex crimes must register annually for 15 years.
- Those convicted of Level 2 sex crimes must register every 6 months for 25 years.
- Those convicted of Level 3 sex crimes must register every 90 days for life.
In a case that is allowing many convicted sex offenders to have their names removed from the sex offender registry, James M. Starkey, Sr., successfully argued that the retroactive application of sex offender levels and registration requirements was a violation of the ex post facto Clause of the United States Constitution.
In 1998, Starkey pleaded no contest to a charge of sexual assault upon a minor child in Texas. He was given a deferred sentence and required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. That year, he moved to Oklahoma.
In 2007, one year before his registration period was to expire, the state adopted the offense-based risk level assessment tool, and determined that Starkey’s Texas conviction was equivalent to the Oklahoma offense of lewd acts with a child under 16—a crime that requires lifetime sex offender registration. Starkey’s conviction was retroactively given a Level 3 risk factor. Instead of his registration concluding in a year, he was told that he would now have to register for life.
The court agreed that the retroactive application of sex offender risk levels was a violation of the ex post facto clause. A person convicted prior to 2007 could not have his or her registration period prolonged by the new risk levels assigned in 2007.
To learn more about Starkey v. Oklahoma and how it may impact your sex offender registration requirements, call today for a free consultation about your ability to be removed from the Oklahoma sex offender list.