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.
|Circumstances||Considerations / Conditions||Reporting Obligations / Timeframe|
|I’m having contact with a child under 18 years||This includes physical contact or any form of oral or written communication, including online/internet||Report the child(ren)’s name, age, residential address and phone number within 24 hours|
|I’m staying overnight at my friend/partner’s house||Are 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 house||Do you spend/intend to spend 7 nights there in a year?||Report address within 24 hours of 7th night|
|I’m moving address||Report the new address with documents proving address||Within 24 hours IN PERSON|
|I’m homeless||Where do you usually spend time and/or sleep?||Report this location within 24 hours IN PERSON|
|I have a new job||Remember you have to report being self-employed and volunteer work. Report name of employer, nature of employment, work location and any email address/phone numbers||Report within 7 days|
|I’m going interstate for 2 or more days||Report 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 state||Report your return within 14 days of return to Victoria|
|I’m going overseas||Report your FULL itinerary including flights and accommodation||Report at least 7 days before departure IN PERSON|
|I’ve arrived back in Victoria after being overseas||You will need to prove where you have travelled/stayed with documents||Report within 3 days of your return IN PERSON|
|I have a new/renewed passport||Your case manager will take a photocopy||Report within 7 days|
|I have a new vehicle||Report make, model, registration and colour||Report within 7 days|
|I’ve been driving my mate’s car/ hire car / work vehicle||Have 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 number||Does this number have internet access?||Report phone number and internet connection within 7 days|
|I’ve joined a new club/organisation/gym||Do 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 service||Report if you cancel or delete any accounts||Report your new or cancelled username within 7 days|
|I usually have an interview at this time of year||It is your responsibility to contact your Case Manager||Contact your Case Manager and make an appointment for an interview within your annual interview month|
|I’ve just been released from prison||You will be interviewed to record your personal details||Report within 7 days via 1800 235 733|
|I have a new tattoo||Your tattoos will be photographed||Report 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.
Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge
A person found guilty of this charge may be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. A matter such as this will likely be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following elements for an accused to be found guilty:
- The accused is a registrable sex offender; and
- The accused failed to comply with any of the registrable offender's reporting obligations (other than reporting obligations in respect of details to which section 14 of the Sex Offender Registration Act applies); or
- The accused failed to comply with any of the registrable offender's reporting obligations in respect of details to which section 14(1)(d), (da), (db), (dc), (dd), (e), (ea), (f), (g), (j), (k) or (m) of the Sex Offender Registration Act applies); or
- The accused failed to comply with any of the registrable offender's reporting obligations in respect of details to which section 14(1)(a), (b), (c), (h), (i) or (l) of the Sex Offender Registration Act applies; and
- The accused had no reasonable excuse for the non-compliance.
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):
- Fail to Comply With Reporting Obligations - Fine, With Conviction
- Without Conviction for Fail to Comply With Reporting Obligations
- Fine Without Conviction for Fail to Comply With Reporting Obligation Under SOR
- Fail to Comply With Reporting Obligations – Good Behaviour Bond
- Breach SORA – Financial Penalty
You can also download our free ebook "Understanding the Sex Offender Registration Act" to know more about sex offender registration.
We offer a free first consultation with people on the Sex Offender Registry who would like to discuss any issues they are having regarding compliance or possible suspension of their reporting obligation.