Sunday, November 20, 2011

Due Process and SORA Risk Level Assesment

In People v Hackett (2011 NY Slip Op 08061 [4th Dept 11/10/11]), the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, vacated defendant's risk level determination, and remitted the matter to County Court for a new risk level determination, where the assessment was based, in part, on factors that had neither been selected on the risk assessment instrument nor raised by the People at the hearing. The Court held that
the court violated his due process rights by sua sponte assessing those additional points. The due process guarantees in the United States and New York Constitutions require that a defendant be afforded notice of the hearing to determine his or her risk level pursuant to SORA and a meaningful opportunity to respond to the risk level assessment (see § 168-n [3]; People v David W., 95 NY2d 130, 136-140). Here, neither risk factor was originally selected on the RAI or raised by the People at the SORA hearing, and defendant learned of the assessment of the additional points for the first time when the court issued its decision (cf. People v Wheeler, 59 AD3d 1007, lv denied 12 NY3d 711).

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