Sex Offender Registry Board
In December 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court announced a new standard of proof for classification of sex offenders.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6, Section 178D creates a Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB). The purpose of SORB is to register and classify convicted sex offenders according to their risk of re-offense and the degree of danger they pose.
The court said, “We conclude that due process requires that a sex offender’s risk level be proved by clear and convincing evidence. The preponderance standard no longer adequately protects against the possibility that those consequences might be visited upon individuals who do not pose the requisite degree of risk and dangerousness.” That’s a big change for offenders who are being and have been classified.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a separate government agency called the Sex Offender Registry Board or “SORB”. The primary job of the SORB is to classify each potential offender probably to reoffend. The process of being classified is through and time-consuming for the lawyer representing the client and the SORB officials that make the determination of what level the person should be. The process of determining what level the offender should be is called classification. However, the SORB’s method and process for determining what level a person is changed dramatically on December 11th 2015.
On December 11th 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Court announced that the process should be changed for evaluating offenders. Prior to December 11th 2015, the standard of dangerous was preponderance of the evidence and on that date they changed that standard. From that day on, the hearing officer must be persuaded that the evidence makes the clear and convincing standard of proof—not the lower standard. The result of a series of new hearings for applicants who were waiting for a decision and a hearing. And for future candidates before the board, the case for a lower level became easier to prove.
THE SORB LEVELS IN MASSACHUSETTS
There are 3 Levels of Sex Offenders in Massachusetts: LEVEL 1, LEVEL II, AND LEVEL III.
LEVEL I OFFENDER
Where the Sex Offender Registry Board determines that the risk of re-offense by an offender is low and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public by that offender is not such that a public safety interest is served by public availability, the Board shall give that offender a Level 1 designation. Information on Level 1 offenders will not be available to the public. Neither the police nor the Board have authority to disseminate information to the general public identifying a Level 1 offender. Information identifying Level 1 offenders may only be given to the Department of Correction, any county correctional facility, the Department of Youth Services, the Department of Social Services, the Parole Board, the Department of Probation and the Department of Mental Health, all city and town police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for law enforcement purposes.
LEVEL II OFFENDER
Where the Board determines that the risk of re-offense is moderate and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a public safety interest is served by public availability of registration information, it shall give a level 2 designation to the sex offender. The public shall have access to the information regarding a level 2 offender through the Local Police Department and through the Sex Offender Registry Board for Level 2 offenders classified after July 12,2013.
LEVEL III OFFENDER
Where the Board determines that the risk of re-offense is high and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by active dissemination, it shall give a level 3 designation to the sex offender. The public shall have access to the information regarding a level 3 offender through the Local Police Departments and through the Sex Offender Registry Board.
Contact William Barabino at 781-393-5900
If you are facing Sex Offender Registration and have questions, contact criminal defense attorney William Barabino by calling his Medford, Massachusetts, law office at 781-393-5900. ###