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MA: Court: Board needs proof in sex offender reclassification

[thesunchronicle.com – 8/1/18]

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board has the burden of proof when determining whether a sex offender should not be moved to a less dangerous classification, the state’s highest court ruled Wednesday.

The Supreme Judicial Court also ruled in separate cases that indigent sex offenders have a right to legal counsel in reclassification hearings, and that those hearings must be held within a “reasonable” period of time.

The board already is required to provide “clear and convincing evidence” when initially determining which of three classification levels a sex offender should receive, based upon their risk of committing new offenses. Those placed in the more serious Level 2 or Level 3 categories are subject to having their names and pictures posted on a public website by the state.

But when a sex offender requested to be moved to a lower classification, or removed from the registry altogether, the board argued that it was the burden of the individual to prove why he or she should deserved to be reclassified.

The court found otherwise.

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  1. Joe123

    At least we can count on the more progressive-thinking people of Massachusetts. Now if only we had intelligent people like this down in Florida, maybe that state’s laws wouldn’t seem like a catastrophic failure which they currently are.

  2. totally against public registry

    Great news! Kudos to Associate Justice Scott Kafker for using common sense and real justice to teach the Board to exercise some sanity in their sex offender registry. Thank you Massachusetts…

  3. David

    Excellent, common sense ruling! Yes, the burden should be on the Board to “prove” that an individual needs to be assigned a higher risk level.

  4. AnotherAnon

    I think the California D.A. is going to need proof of danger to challenge a petition to get off of the registry. In other words, a petition that has satisfied the requirements — actually registered and Tier time completed given conviction(s) — the default it to grant removal unless the D.A. has some proof that public safety would be at risk from the individual petitioning.

  5. Veiled In Secrecy

    While this may appear to be a good step for Massachusetts, it’s troubling to take a larger look at its registry scheme. Massachusetts’ classification process is veiled in secrecy. According to Massachusetts state’s own website, “Unlike the criminal trial process, the Sex Offender Registry Board hearing by law is not open to the public, including victims.” Further, if you have a crime that involves a victim, they are permitted to submit a victim impact statement. A victim impact statement has its place in sentencing; but what place does a victim impact statement have when registration is *not* considered punishment?

    Furthermore, note the vagueness of who the single sex offender classification “hearing examiner” may consist of. “The hearing is conducted by a single hearing examiner, who may also be a Board member.”

    https://www.mass.gov/service-details/sex-offender-classification-process

    • Joe123

      Luckily, they are pretty lenient. For example, porn offenses are Tier 1, unlike California which seems to make them an a** backwards Tier 3. You are also able to petition down one level of you’re a 2 or 3.

      • Mike T.

        I agree with Joe. Also, “risk” is not defined solely on a risk assessment “tool” like the Static-99R scam. Ultimate classification is based on testimony of experts.

        • Scam-99R

          How dare you slam “doctor” Karl Hanson’s “sciences.” 😉

  6. Tim L

    BURDEN OF PROOF………Haha

    IF? the States actually ever had a burden to bear how come http://www.innocenceproject.org exists?
    https://www.innocenceproject.org

    IN AMERICA Not only can a man be convicted of crimes he did not do, his punishments can be increased habitually by fiat.

  7. Les Mis Life

    Loser of a case and it won anyway! Good news…for now…hopefully this is an indication that judges and justices are realizing the fallacy of the law and siding for justice even when the case itself is an example of a repeat offender looking for relief.

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