Written by attorney Richard J. Sweeney

Sex Offender Registry In Massachusetts

Sex Offender Registry Board/ Megan’s Law

Megan’s Law is the term commonly used to describe state laws requiring convicted sex offenders, or people who are tagged as sexually deviant based upon prior convictions, to register themselves with a statewide board as sexually deviant.

What is the sex offender registry board?

The sex offender registry board is the panel which must decide in which of the three categories of sexually deviant behavior each person who commits a sex crime in the Commonwealth belongs. The three levels range from modest offenses such as lewd and lascivious conduct or indecent exposure to the higher ranges where people who have been convicted of multiple counts, or sexually violent crimes, or who have been determined as sexually dangerous persons or sexual predators. The board also hears appeals from people who believe that they either belong in a different category of sex offenders or who believe they do not belong on the list.

How long do I have to be on the list if I am required to register?

Sexually violent offenders, those who have offended against a child, and those with two or more convictions must register for life. All other sexual offenders must register for 20 years, however, they may petition the Sex Offender Registry Board for relief after 10 years following their last conviction, release from custody, or discharge from community supervision.

Will people in my neighborhood know that I am on the Sex Offender Registry?

Active community notification is conducted by the police departments where the offender resides, works, and where the offense(s) took place on all offenders finally classified a Level 3. The police shall provide information about Level 3 offenders to all schools, daycares, and places where the public is likely to encounter the offender. Additionally, the police shall cause such information to be transmitted through a media outlet such as television, newsprint, etc.

Information about offenders finally classified at Level 2 may be released by the police departments upon written inquiry from any individual 18 years of age or older, who certifies they are requesting the information for their own personal safety or the safety of their family. Individuals may also contact the Sex Offender Registry Board for information related to Level 2 or Level 3 offenders. This request must be made in writing on a form bearing the signature of the requester attesting to the fact that they are 18 years of age or older and the information is requested for their own personal safety or the safety of their family.

Information about those offenders who have finally been classified at Level 1 and those offenders pending classification shall not be released to the public, but may be shared between law enforcement agencies. What is the penalty for not registering?

Under the law any sex offender who knowingly fails to register or reregister, or who knowingly provides materially false information to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minor Registry shall be guilty of a felony.

A first conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two and one-half years in a house of correction nor more than five years in a state prison or by fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by both such fine and imprisonment.

A second and subsequent conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than five years.

What offenses require registration with the board?

Offenses requiring registration with the board include, but may not be limited to: Indecent assault and battery on a child under 14; indecent assault and battery on a mentally retarded person; indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over; rape; rape of a child under 16 with force; rape and abuse of a child; assault with intent to commit rape; assault of a child with intent to commit rape; kidnapping of a child; enticing away a person for prostitution or sexual intercourse; drugging persons for sexual intercourse; inducing a minor into prostitution; living off or sharing earnings of a minor prostitute; second and subsequent adjudication or conviction for open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior; incestuous marriage or intercourse; disseminating to a minor matter harmful to a minor; posing or exhibiting a child in a state of nudity; dissemination of visual material of a child in a state of nudity or sexual conduct; possession of child pornography; unnatural and lascivious acts with a child under 16; aggravated rape; any attempt to commit any of the aforementioned violations

What can I do if the Registry has informed me that I must register?

If you feel that the registry has placed you in the wrong Level of offender, or if you feel that you do not belong on the registry, and you have a compelling reason why you believe so, you should contact an attorney and begin the appeal process. People have had success in appeals, especially where the crime was committed a number of years ago and there has been no crime committed since, and in cases where the crime that was allegedly committed was pled to prior to the creation of the sex offender registry. We have represented a number of people in appeals before the sex offender registry board, and have had some success.

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