s.11A of the Sex Offenders Registration Act came into effect in early 2018. The section allows a person who was aged 18 or 19 years at the time of offending to make an application for a registration exemption order.
Our client was placed on the Sex Offender Register for life after pleading guilty to several charges of sexual penetration with a child under the age of 16. The client was 18 years old when he commenced a relationship with the victim, who was almost 16 at the time of the offending.
When our client fell to be sentenced on these matters at the age of 18, the Judge remarked that it seemed very harsh to place our client on the Register for life given the circumstances of his case, however, he was required by law to do so.
Unfortunately, following these criminal proceedings, our client’s mental health went into decline. He also developed a serious drug addiction. These issues resulted in our client subsequently being charged and convicted for serious violent offences for which he received a term of imprisonment. His incarceration was made more difficult by reason of other prisoners finding out he was on the Register.
After being released from prison, the strong support of his family and mental health professionals, our client was able to reintegrate into the Victorian community however, he continued to experience the stigmatisation associated with being on the Register, which impacted upon his ability to enter into relationships, or apply for work.
When section 11A of the Sex Offender Registration Act 2004 (Vic) came into effect, our client became aware that he might be eligible for exemption. He sought advice from our office regarding this. Given the subsequent drug use and offending, the application had to be carefully prepared, and its timing was critical.
We represented the client at the Melbourne County Court for a SORA exemption application.
We assisted our client to file comprehensive materials with the Court, including a detailed affidavit which explained why he was eligible to be removed from the Sex Offender’s Register, the context surrounding the original offending, our client’s current circumstances and his impressive progress in his work and social life.
A psychologist’s report was provided to the Chief Commissioner of Police ahead of the County Court hearing. This report assessed our client as ‘low risk of further sexual re-offending’.
The Judge had an opportunity to review the materials filed on behalf of our client ahead of the court date. The Chief Commissioner of police came along to the hearing and told the court that our application would not be opposed.
Our lawyer, Elise Anselma appeared on behalf of our client at the hearing. To the great relief of the client and his family, his application for exemption was granted.
This was an exceptional result for our client and for his family. All were extremely grateful for the hard work and care provided by Elise.