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Offence of Failing to Comply With Reporting Obligations (Sex Offender Registry)

The Offence of Failing to Comply With Reporting Obligations (Sex Offender Registry) is becoming a more and more prevalent offence. This is largely because being on the Register is quite onerous and a great deal of responsibility is placed on people to report many and varied details about their lives, from contact with children to buying a new bike for example. There are reporting obligations which stipulates timelines when police must be informed of changes to personal details, circumstances, absences from Victoria or when a person is in contact with children amongst many others. A person who is on the Register must also report to the police annually.

The offence of failing to comply with reporting obligations is governed by s46 of the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic).

It is not uncommon for a person to attend their yearly report and advise police that they have changed address or have a new vehicle and subsequently, they are charged for failing to comply with the Sex Offender Registry on the basis that they have notified the office out of time.

It is very important that any person on the Register is familiar with their obligations. The timeframes for reporting are different depending on the obligation.

As of 1 June 2015, changes were made to the Sex Offender Register reporting obligations. The reporting obligations for those on the register are quite involved. Victoria Police have produced an easy to reference guide as to when contact should be made. Please see the table reproduced below.

CircumstancesConsiderations / ConditionsReporting Obligations / Timeframe
I’m having contact with a child under 18 yearsThis includes physical contact or any form of oral or written communication, including online/internetReport the child(ren)’s name, age, residential address and phone number within 24 hours
I’m staying overnight at my friend/partner’s houseAre there children under 18 years living at that address?Report the child(ren)’s name, age, residential address and phone number within 24 hours
I’m staying overnight at my friend/partner’s houseDo you spend/intend to spend 7 nights there in a year?Report address within 24 hours of 7th night
I’m moving addressReport the new address with documents proving addressWithin 24 hours IN PERSON
I’m homelessWhere do you usually spend time and/or sleep?Report this location within 24 hours IN PERSON
I have a new jobRemember you have to report being self-employed and volunteer work. Report name of employer, nature of employment, work location and any email address/phone numbersReport within 7 days
I’m going interstate for 2 or more daysReport travel plans at least 7 days before your trip. If you will be in another state for more than 7 days, you may have to report to the register in that stateReport your return within 14 days of return to Victoria
I’m going overseasReport your FULL itinerary including flights and accommodationReport at least 7 days before departure IN PERSON
I’ve arrived back in Victoria after being overseasYou will need to prove where you have travelled/stayed with documentsReport within 3 days of your return IN PERSON
I have a new/renewed passportYour case manager will take a photocopyReport within 7 days
I have a new vehicleReport make, model, registration and colourReport within 7 days
I’ve been driving my mate’s car/ hire car / work vehicleHave you driven it or intend to drive it 14 times in a year?Report make, model, rego and colour after 14th time you drive it within 7 days
I have a new home/mobile phone numberDoes this number have internet access?Report phone number and internet connection within 7 days
I’ve joined a new club/organisation/gymDo they also have members/participants who are children?Report name of club/organisation/gym within 7 days and/or any child contact within 24 hours
I have a new internet account/email or messaging serviceReport if you cancel or delete any accountsReport your new or cancelled username within 7 days
I usually have an interview at this time of yearIt is your responsibility to contact your Case ManagerContact your Case Manager and make an appointment for an interview within your annual interview month
I’ve just been released from prisonYou will be interviewed to record your personal detailsReport within 7 days via 1800 235 733
I have a new tattooYour tattoos will be photographedReport within 7 days IN PERSON

Often, these charges relate to matters that are quite trifling, for example failing to notify police about a new mobile phone number in the required time frame. The real problem with these charges is that a person who has been previously convicted of sex offences is not given a chance to move on with their life after serving their sentence on the original offences. They are charged in situations that sometimes defy belief. As an example, one of our clients got rid of a mobile phone and failed to tell police (in circumstances where he was returning it to his parole officer) and he was charged with failing to comply with his obligations.

There is not clear guidance at this stage from the higher courts about the penalties for these offences and the tariffs in the Magistrates’ Court are unsettled. However, it is often possible to submit for a good behaviour bond or fine only due to the regulatory nature of these offences.

Possible Defences: Offence of Failing to Comply With Reporting Obligations (Sex Offender Registry)

The defence to these charges can be around what the person was told about their requirements and issues of fact. Talk to a criminal defence lawyer to discuss the particulars of your case.

Sentencing Outcomes in the Magistrates’ Court

The Sentencing Advisory Council has released sentencing statistics for the sentencing of the Offence of Failing to Comply With Reporting Obligations (Sex Offender Registry) matters in the Magistrates’ Court between July 2011 to June 2014.

Over the three year period:

  • 1,735 cases were before the Court
  • 8.8% of people sentenced received a period of imprisonment
  • 11.0% received a wholly suspended period of imprisonment
  • 1.3% received a partially suspended sentence
  • 5.3% received some form of community based order
  • 63.6% received a financial penalty.

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was between 0 and 3 months with 30.7% of persons imprisoned sentenced within that range.

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.

Sentencing Outcomes in the Higher Courts

The Sentencing Advisory Council has released sentencing statistics for the sentencing of failing to comply with reporting conditions on the sex offender registry in the County and Supreme Court’s between July 2009 to June 2014.

Over the five year period:

  • 42 cases were before the Court
  • 76.2% of people sentenced received a period of imprisonment
  • 4.8% received a wholly suspended period of imprisonment
  • 7.2% received some form of community based order
  • 2.4% received a financial penalty.

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was between 0 and 1 year with 90.6% sentenced within that range.

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.

Check out some of the criminal cases we’ve defended in court involving the Offence of Failing to Comply With Reporting Obligations (Sex Offender Registry) :

You can also download our free ebook “Understanding the Sex Offender Registration Act” to know more about sex offender registration.