In Massachusetts, if you are convicted of a sex crime, not only will you face some harsh punitive measures, but you will also be required to register as a sex offender with the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB). In an effort to educate the public and prevent further victimization, SORB compiles a comprehensive list of all the sex offenders registered in Massachusetts and classifies them so that the information is readily available to the public. Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6, Section 178D, the Sex Offender Registry Board requires those convicted of a sex crime to provide their name, aliases, date and place of birth, sex, race, height, weight, hair color, social security number, home address, work address, photograph, fingerprints, description of the crime, and any other information deemed useful in assessing the risk of the sex offender to be submitted and available to the public.
The required length of registration for a sex offender ranges from 20 years to life, and is based on the type of sex offense rather than the actual classification. The Sex Offender Registry Law (SORL) requires an individual to register for 20 years if they are convicted of a single sex offense or if the offense was committed as a juvenile. If the offense involved a child, is a violent offense, or the offender has any prior convictions, they will be required to register for life. Persons whose only sex offense was committed as a juvenile may request relief from their duty to register; requests are not automatically granted and are viewed on a case specific basis.
Following the initial registration, a sex offender must verify their address once a year, notify the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) within 45 days upon becoming homeless, notify the SORB 10 days in advance of intent to change home, work, post-secondary school address, and notify the SORB 10 days in advance of intent to move outside Massachusetts. Registration with the SORB costs an initial fee of $75 and an additional $75 annual renewal fee. Failure to register with the Board, verify information, or provide adequate notice for a change of address is a criminal offense in Massachusetts set forth by Chapter 6, Section 178H of the General Laws, and carries a significant punishment for those who violate the law. To learn more about this offense, visit our page here.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, sex offenders are categorized into three levels based on their dangerousness and their likeliness to re-offend. Classification is a two-step process. First, at the preliminary stage, the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) makes a recommendation about the duty to register and the sex offender classification based on factors such as previous criminal history, nature of the crime, degree of harm, characteristics of the victim, offenders in treatment programs, and other evidence. An offender is allowed to submit evidence on his or her own behalf, such as completion of a treatment program. However, it is highly recommended that an offender consult the advice of an experienced Massachusetts sex crimes attorney prior to submitting any documents to the court. Secondly, after the preliminary hearing, the Board will send their recommendation to you, if you accept their recommendation it becomes final, but if you reject their recommendation, you have a right to a hearing.
Level One is the least extreme classification in Massachusetts. An individual designated as a Level One offender means that the Sex Offender Registry Board determines the risk of re-offense to be low and there is a minimal degree of dangerousness posed to the safety of the public. Level One offenders may submit their annual registrations by mail. Information on Level One offenders is not made available to the public, but will be accessible by the Department of Correction, any county correctional facility, Departments of Probation, Mental Heath, Social Services, Youth Services, the FBI and the Parole Board.
Those offenders designated as Level Two are those that with a moderate risk of re-offense and with a potential threat to the public safety. Therefore, a public interest is served by making their registration information available to the public. Level Two sex offenders must re-register each year in person at the local police station. Information on Level Two sex offender is accessible through the local police department and through the Sex Offender Registry Board. If you have been classified as a Level Two or Level Three sex offender, you are required to register at the local police station within 48 hours.
If the Sex Offender Registry Board determines that an individual’s risk of re-offense is high and there is substantial degree of dangerousness posed to the public, that individual shall be deemed a Level Three offender. Level Two sex offenders must re-register each year in person at the local police station. In order to protect the safety of the public, registration information for a Level Three offender is made available to the public through the local police department, and the Sex Offender Registry Board. In addition, police departments actively distribute this information to the community. If you have been classified as a Level Two or Level Three sex offender, you are required to register at the local police station within 48 hours.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (P.L. 109-248) is a federal law that took effect in July 2006 in an effort to nationalize the sex offender registry and create a unified system of classification and registration. Among the changes implemented, this law divides sex offenders into three tiers and requires different registry periods for each tier. The law also imposes stricter penalties on sex offenders and requires those registered to update their whereabouts more often. In addition, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act mandates that failing to register and update information will be a felonious crime. The law intended for states to adopt the act and implement the changes necessary before 2009, while curtailing funding for states that did not comply. As of July, 2011, the only jurisdictions deemed in substantial compliance with the Act are: Ohio, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Delaware, Florida, South Dakota, Michigan, Nevada, Wyoming, Pennsylvania. As of 2012, Massachusetts remains in defiance of this law.
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