New York Penal Law 70.30

In People v. Buss (11 NY3d 553, 900 NE2d 964, 872 NYS2d 413 [2008]), the Court of Appeals held that where an offender is convicted of a sex crime and later convicted of a nonsexual offense for which the offender receives a consecutive sentence, the two sentences, for SORA purposes, are deemed to have been "made into one." (11 NY3d at 557.) The defendant in Buss was convicted of a sex crime in 1983 for which he received a 2 to 6 years' indeterminate term. He was then convicted of attempted murder while on parole in 1987 and sentenced to a consecutive indeterminate term of 10 to 20 years. When he was released in 2002, the Court held, Buss was still serving a sentence for his 1983 sex crime and thus still subject to the provisions of SORA, even though the maximum term of his sex offense conviction had expired 13 years earlier in 1989. In reaching its conclusion, the Court largely relied upon the provisions of Penal Law 70.30 (1) (b). That statute provides that when a defendant is serving two or more indeterminate terms which run consecutively, the minimum periods and maximum terms of those sentences are each respectively added together to form an aggregate minimum period of imprisonment and an aggregate maximum term of imprisonment. While acknowledging that the primary purpose of these calculations was to determine an offender's parole eligibility date, the Court found it "reasonable to apply section 70.30 to the question of whether a prisoner who has been given multiple sentences is subject to all his sentences for the duration of his term of imprisonment." (11 NY3d at 557.) The Court also grounded its holding on policy considerations. The Court noted that the primary purpose of SORA was to protect the public from the recidivism danger posed by sex offenders and held that it was "consistent with SORA's aims that Buss was required to identify himself as a sex offender when ultimately released from prison, even though his sex offense sentence would have expired before SORA became effective had he not committed his later crime." (Id. at 558.)