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MA: O’Connell sponsors bill to prevent sex offender name change

[tauntongazette.com – 9/19/19]

TAUNTON – State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, wants to put an end to what she calls a loophole that allows registered sex offenders to legally change their names.

O’Connell, who is running in this year’s Taunton mayoral race, filed legislation a week ago to prohibit convicted sex offenders from changing their name to hide their identity.

She said that more than a dozen cosponsors in the House signed the bill that she says in the end will protect children and families.

A story last January by Boston 25 News reported that a Level 3 sex offender had legally changed his name in 2013.

The Brighton man reportedly changed his last name after serving time in prison, after pleading guilty in 2010 to four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

The story generated media interest, in part because of national coverage of his company’s design concept to use solar-powered pods traveling on a network of elevated public transportation tracks.

During an interview, the man said he wasn’t trying to conceal his status but that he changed his name when he wasn’t able to find a job, mainly because of search engines like Google.

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  1. Eric

    Wow, so Shauna O’Connell can not only run for office, but she can write laws about things she obviously doesn’t understand. Maybe she could actually pay a visit to the police department and ask them what exactly happens when a registrant changes their name, and the officer would politely inform her that it s documented and that person with their new name is placed on the updated registry and it continues to follow them. I remember a time when I used to think politicians actually knew what they were doing, boy, what a surprise.

  2. David

    Does California have such a “name change restriction law” precluding someone convicted of a sexual offense from changing his or her name?

    • NPS

      In California, you have the common law right to change your name. It’s something called the “usage method” in which you just use the new name in all aspects of life. However, anything to do with official government business (DMV, Social Security, Passport, etc) will not allow you to use it without a court ordered name change. The only people barred from the “usage method” are people in prison, on parole, on probation, or (of course) on the sex offense registry.

      I have a “usage method” name, and I still use it in all aspects of life. I used it long before having to register, and I will continue to use it until I die. Eff them. I’m not going to revert back to a name I have stopped using long ago. I just add the usage method name to the “aka” section when I do my annual register. I’m not on a public registry so what difference does it make?

      Eventually I’ll legally change it after I’m off the registry (hopefully next summer when I file the CoR). There is a question on the NC-110 that asks if you are required to register under 290. The judge could deny if he/she believes that you are changing your name to escape the law or to commit fraud. However, if the petitioner states, that he/she will update the name with their registering officer, then why not grant the name change?

      • Name Lost in Time

        I have a “usage method” name. However this name is on all my official documents including Social Security card, drivers license and (expired) passport. I began using this name back in early 1970’s. Only my birth certificate has my legal name. The courts have no record of my legal name. Puts me in a unique situation. However I do not know how I will ever be able to apply for a new passport or the new “Real ID” since my Birth Certificate does not match my ID’s.

  3. Tim in WI

    This particular affirmative restraints upon name change is fruitless precisely because every states SOR, and AG, STATE POLICE, and DOC databases have AKA ( also known as) functions.
    Therefore it a sex offender does in fact change his name by lawful means, or simply adopt another name it could be published, but only if the agent had knowledge. For the most part grandstanding is the key words here. I’M trying to think of the propper ” gotcha” question to pin this bone head.

    Reporter:
    Representative O’Connell the loophole you described is covered by the AKA or Alike functions
    on gov computers are they not? ”

    WI put that restraint upon us here too in 95. It remains unchallenged on constitutional grounds however the restraint is retributive precisely because it doesn’t bear fruit and doesn’t deter SOR BROADCAST.

  4. Facts should matter

    “O’Connell, who is running in this year’s Taunton mayoral race,”

    Say no more! Going for the easy win by closing a so-called “loop hole” that won’t protect anyone or anything, but the voters always fall for this nonsense by default and will ironically see it as a “no-brainer.”

  5. Raymond

    It is not a loop hole it is our Rights !
    The Law is being used at every turn against RCs on our Legal road to freedom and every False, Unconstitutional, Civil VIOLATION as well as Human Rights Ignored or Trampled on needs Serious Documentation and Legal Support !
    When an unjust or Horrible Murder happens by Authorities it’s always a Big Challenge to Force those responsible to be Accountable and Stop the Murderers. ..RCs need the same.
    The Registered Citizens Social Justice League, Institute, Organization, Task Force, Foundation, etc….
    RCs have a Great need for fair, open, On the spot Representation, Documentation, Legal Council and much much more

  6. AJ

    This is some of the stupidest legislation any “lawmaker” can propose. What loophole even exists or is being used? If I change my name from John Doe to Dick Fitzwell, it doesn’t stop my having to register…it just means next time I’ll put my name as Dick Fitzwell instead of John Doe. If this lady is so concerned about this “loophole”, why not just change the registration rules to mandate one list all current and former legal or common-usage names? After all, being regulatory, it’s but a snap of the fingers, right?

    Also, if we still (silly me) hold to what SCOTUS said in Smith, the registry is merely a combination of mostly public information about someone who has committed a sex offense. Okay, so just add one more public record (name change) to your wonderful registry, you buffoons. Smith also held it was for community notification of who has committed such offenses. I’m sure MANY more people in my community know my face than know my name. If they happen to snoop on ML, which we all know VERY few ever do, they’ll recognize my face and then LEARN my name.

    Finally, with everything inappropriately (and often illegally) tied to one’s SSN, the name change is only temporary camouflage.

    The real “loophole” is some RCs may move to another State, establish residency, change their names, then move back to MA. Duh. This is also one more argument for the uselessness of keeping people on a registry after leaving a jurisdiction. I could change my name, move to yet another jurisdiction, etc.

  7. NY Won’t let go

    That lady replying to Derek in the comments is the reason people like Shauna get elected.

    They would rather have a wife beater, drunk driver or drug dealer killing people than to chance one person reoffending. 😑

    🤷‍♂️

  8. Jun

    What do they want to take away next from law-abiding, American registered citizens? Food and drink?

  9. SMP

    I’ve been reading about changing names while abroad. Has anyone successfully done so? It seems it might be easier to do. If you are allowed a name change in whatever country you are in (outside of the US), the US will honor it. Just go to the US Embassy to file the name change. I’m wondering if there are any countries where you can just file for a name change as a tourist instead of a permanent resident or citizen.

    • David

      @ SMP: I don’t know if a name change on foreign soil can be done so easily or swiftly, but I do certainly love your idea!! 👏👏👏😁😁😁

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