Weighing Options: Applying to Remove Conditions Under Sex Offender Register

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Bill DoogueThe article Weighing Options: Applying to Remove Conditions Under 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.

Man Applying to Remove Conditions under Sex Offender Register

Section 39 or Section 45A Applications Under the Sex Offender Registration Act

Navigating the world of reporting obligations as a registrable offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) can be complex. When seeking relief from these obligations, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the available options. In this guide, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of both Section 39 and Section 45A applications, helping you make an informed decision tailored to your circumstances.

This information is designed for those required to comply with reporting obligations for life.

Section 39 Application Under Sex Offender Registration Act


  • Formal Judicial Process: The Section 39 application involves the Supreme Court, providing a structured and formal legal process for your case.
  • Better outcomes: The Supreme Court can make an order suspending reporting obligations for the remainder of your life.
  • Legal Expertise: You can benefit from legal representation, which can help present your case more effectively and navigate the intricacies of the court system.


  • Costly: Legal representation can be expensive, adding financial strain to an already complex situation.
  • Lengthy process: The formal judicial process may result in a longer waiting period before a decision is reached about the condition of your registration.
  • Uncertain outcome: Due to the high threshold and formal nature of the process, there’s no guarantee of success, and unfavourable court decisions could have broader implications.

Section 45A Application:


  • Administrative simplicity: The Section 45A application to the Police Commissioner involves an administrative process, which might be less intimidating and more accessible for some registrable offenders.
  • Timeframes: The administrative nature of Section 45A applications may lead to quicker decisions, allowing for a more timely decision.
  • Less expensive: The administrative process of Section 45A may not necessarily require legal representation, potentially reducing costs.


  • Limited outcomes: The Chief Commissioner only has the power to suspend reporting obligations for up to 5 years. They frequently suspend for shorter timeframes requiring applicants to reapply after 12 months.
  • Subjectivity: The Chief Commissioner’s decision is based on Police discretion, which could be unpredictable and vary based on personal interpretation. There is limited transparency, and written reasons are not always provided.
  • Less formal: The administrative process might lack the structure and legal rigor associated with formal court proceedings.


As a registrable offender wanting to remove conditions under the Sex Offender Registration Act, evaluating the pros and cons of Section 39 and Section 45A applications under the Act is crucial.

The choice between a formal judicial process and an administrative route depends on factors such as your financial situation, desire for legal representation, and timeline for decision-making. Whether you value the potential for precedent-setting outcomes or prefer a more streamlined approach, understanding these considerations will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and circumstances.

Remember, seeking legal advice from lawyers experienced in Sex Offender Register cases and thorough preparation will ultimately contribute to the success of your chosen application path.
Date Published: 29 August 2023

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