Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. Who qualifies for review under New York's Civil Management Law?
- 2. What are the procedures under Article 10?
The process begins when a sex offender is referred to the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to be considered for civil management. The two most common referrals would be when: (1) a sex offender is about to be released from prison; or (2) an offender has served his or her parole time, and is about to be released from parole.
The next step involves a screening of the case by the OMH multi-disciplinary team. Some cases are then referred to a "case review team" established by OMH for further evaluation. The case review team, based on a review and assessment of records and a psychiatric exam, considers whether the offender is a sex offender requiring civil management. If the case review team, and the psychiatrist or psychologist who has evaluated the offender, determines that the offender should be civilly managed, the case is referred to the Attorney General's office.
- 3. What role does the Office of the Attorney General play in this process?
After the case is referred to the Office of the Attorney General by the case review team, the Attorney General reviews the case. The Attorney General makes a decision as to whether or not to file a Petition requesting civil management of the sex offender.
- 4. How many cases are referred to the Office of the Attorney General?
Less than 3% of those cases reviewed by the Office of Mental Health are referred to the Attorney General's Office for civil management proceedings.
- 5. Is the sex offender entitled to an attorney?
Yes, the sex offender is entitled to an attorney. If the sex offender is financially unable to afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the sex offender. Most of the sex offenders are represented by the Mental Hygiene Legal Service.
- 6.What happens after the petition is filed?
Once the petition for civil management is filed, the Office of the Attorney General is required to make the sex offender's records available to the attorney for the sex offender after deleting victim names, addresses and/or other identifying information. The court holds a hearing after the petition is filed, without a jury, to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the sex offender is a sex offender requiring civil management. If the court finds probable cause and determines that the sex offender should be held in a secure treatment facility pending trial the sex offender is placed in OMH custody pending trial.
- 7. What happens at the trial?
A sex offender is entitled to a 12 person jury trial. The Attorney General must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the sex offender is a sex offender that suffers from a mental abnormality. The jury must find by a unanimous verdict that the Attorney General proved the sex offender is sex offender who suffers from a mental abnormality. If the verdict is not unanimous, the court may conduct a second trial. If the jury at the second trial cannot find by a unanimous verdict that the sex offender suffers from a mental abnormality, the court will dismiss the petition.
The sex offender can waive a jury trial and can opt to have his or her case heard by only the judge.
- 8. What is a "mental abnormality"?
The law defines "mental abnormality" as a condition or disease that affects a person’s capacity in a way that predisposes the individual to commit sex offenses and that causes that person to have serious difficulty in controlling that behavior.
- 9. What happens if the jury finds that the sex offender suffers from a mental abnormality?
The judge has only two options when a mental abnormality is found. The judge must decide whether the sex offender is dangerous so as to be confined or the judge may release the offender to strict and intensive supervision and treatment (SIST) under the supervision of the Division of Parole.
- 10. What is a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement?
A dangerous sex offender requiring confinement is a person, who suffers from a mental abnormality involving such a strong predisposition to commit sex offenses, and such an inability to control behavior, that the person is likely to be a danger to others and commit sex offenses if not confined to a secure treatment facility under the supervision of the Office of Mental Health.
There are two secure treatment facilities under the supervision of OMH: Central NY Psychiatric Center in Marcy, NY, and St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, NY.
- 11. What is strict and intensive supervision and treatment (SIST)?
Under the supervision of the Division of Parole, the individual must submit to sex offender treatment and other conditions. Conditions could include GPS monitoring, no contact with victims, polygraph monitoring and other conditions ordered by the court. Each case is examined on an individual basis and the offender's treatment plan is tailored to that individual's case. Strict and intensive supervision is only intended for those individuals who can safely live in the community. For many of these people, strict and intensive supervision will be imposed only after they have served their time in prison and are ready to be released, and/or have completed their sentence of parole.
- 12. How long does a person remain under civil management?
Pursuant to Article 10, a sex offender placed in an Office of Mental Health secure treatment facility is entitled to an annual review of the order of confinement. If the Office of Mental Health determines that the individual is no longer a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement, then the Office of Mental Health can file a petition in court for the individual's discharge or release to SIST. Additionally, the committed offender may file a petition with the court at any time to be released from the facility. Those placed on SIST can petition the court every two years for modification or termination of the SIST conditions.
- 13. What happens if someone under strict and intensive supervision and treatment (SIST) violates the conditions of supervision?
SIST can be revoked if the individual violates a condition of the sentence or if a treating professional indicates that the individual may be a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement. The parole officer may take the person into custody and transport the person to a secure treatment or correctional facility for a psychiatric examination. After the person is in custody, the Attorney General may file either: (1) a petition for confinement; or (2) a petition to modify the conditions of SIST. If a petition is filed, the court proceeds with another hearing.
- 14. Can a sex offender ever file an appeal during this process?
The sex offender cannot appeal the probable cause finding. If no probable cause is found, then the Attorney General may appeal to a higher court. Either the Attorney General or the sex offender can appeal the final order of the court. If the sex offender is found to suffer from a mental abnormality and the judge orders the sex offender to be confined or released to strict and intensive supervision and treatment, then the sex offender can appeal the judge's decision.
Any sex offender in the custody of the NYS Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), or under the supervision of NYS Division of Parole (DOP) is subject to civil management review if they are serving a sentence for a qualifying sex offense. For a summary of the qualifying offenses, click here. Also, certain felonies, which are non-sexual in nature, can be qualifying offenses if they are sexually motivated.