How can you travel overseas when you are on the Sex Offender Register?

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Bill DoogueThe article How can you travel overseas when you are on the Sex Offender Register? is written by Bill Doogue, Director, Accredited Criminal Law Specialist, Doogue + George Defence Lawyers.

Bill is a director of the operations of Doogue + George. He has been an accredited criminal law specialist ever since 1998 and has over 30 years of experience in criminal defence.

Over the years, Bill's legal expertise has allowed the firm to represent numerous clients - including high ranking church officials, state and federal politicians, as well as huge corporations which sometimes involve foreign jurisdictions. His excellence in the field earned him a Law Institute of Victoria Service Award in 2013 and the title of Preeminent Criminal Defence Lawyer in the Doyle’s Guide 2023.

AirplaneWe have just acted in a matter for a client who wanted to travel overseas while listed on the Sex Offender Register. Recent legislative changes require registered offenders with reporting obligations to obtain permission from a competent authority to travel internationally.

Our client had initially made the application for permission to travel by himself, which was unfortunately not the best move, and was verbally told that the application would be refused. As soon as our client contacted us we immediately filed written submissions and were able to have permission for travel granted within five days from the Sex Offender Registry.

Getting permission to travel when on the Sex Offender Registry

The amendments to the laws for travelling when on the Register mean that the starting position is that you are unlikely to have overseas travel approved at all. As it is early days there is no body of rulings yet as to what is a good enough reason or a safe enough place for people to travel to.

The amendment to s271A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) has made it a criminal offence for an Australian Citizen with reporting obligations in connection to any State or Territory Sex Offender Register to leave Australia without the permission of a ‘competent authority’.

To apply for this permission from the Sex Offender Registry , you should seek our legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure that you are following the required process and putting your best case forward.

We would have a chat to and request a copy of the travel application form from your Registry case worker, and work with you to obtain your personal instructions, relevant details and supporting documentation. This is then submitted to the Sex Offender Registry.

The Sex Offender Registry has delegated power to approve or reject this application.

If your application for travel is approved, you may still face difficulties at international customs points. This is something that we can advise you about and help you to have all the documents that will help you to limit any troubles you may encounter trying to get into the foreign country.

Should your application be rejected, you will receive a letter from the Sex Offender Registry. We would then consider filing a request for a formal statement of reasons for the refusal under s13(1) of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth), which must be produced by the decision-maker within 28 days.

Once the grounds are received, you might then seek to appeal the travel refusal to the Federal Court on the grounds of judicial review: s 5 Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).

Getting Legal Advice

If you are a person affected by these changes to the Sex offender registry, you should seek our legal advice when you start thinking of travelling. If you have been recently placed on the Sex Offender Register and have reporting obligations, we should try and apply for permission to travel early as early as possible to improve your future chances. It may be necessary to have a number of attempts to get permission and so it is important that you do not book and pay for your travel before you get legal advice. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your money on trips that you can not take.

There is much to do including:

  • The brief of evidence relating to the original charges;
  • Psychologist and/or health reports;
  • Current character references;
  • New risk assessments.

There is also the possibility of applying for suspension of reporting conditions depending on the circumstances.
Please contact us and have a discussion about these issues.
Date Published: 12 April 2018

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