Being convicted with a sex crime bars you from going to certain places, and leaves you with a humiliating black mark on your record that never goes away, which can mean that it can be tempting for a sex offender to attempt to fly under the radar. Unfortunately, failure to register as a sex offender can lead to serious repercussions. Such an offense can be a felony or misdemeanor crime and if you are convicted you may find yourself facing even more marks on your record, as well as additional jail time.
In Massachusetts, failure to register as a sex offender is covered by Section 178H of Chapter 6 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Who Are Required to File?
The crimes that require registration are the following:
- Attempted rape
- Object sexual penetration
- Sexual battery
- Sexual contact with a minor
- Possessing, financing, or distributing child pornography
You might also find that the information regarding certain crimes changes over time. In other words, if you are convicted of a sex crime that does not currently require you to register on the sex offenders list, there is a chance that you will be ordered to file at a later date if legislation is passed that requires it for your particular offense.
How to Register
The procedure for registration is usually quite straightforward, and usually those who were convicted of an offense requiring registration will need to file within three days of release from jail or prison, by providing the police department where they live with their information which will be sent to a statewide registry. When registering, it is often required that you provide a picture of yourself, a DNA sample, an email address, a finger and palm print, employment information, registration for car information, and proof of residence.
If following the registration procedure, you decide to move to a different area or different state, then you will be required to seek out the sheriff or police office in your new county or city within a period of three days. It's also important to note that if you do decide to move, you will also need to notify the police precinct where you registered in the first place, at least ten days before you choose to leave. You will also need to update your registration information within three days of getting a new vehicle, a new job, or a new house in the same area.
If you decide to change the chatroom name you used when you registered, your email address, or any other internet user name, you will need to notify the police within thirty minutes of that change.
Importantly, most offenders will be required to register on an annual basis - unless one of the above factors applies to your circumstances. Anyone convicted of a crime that is deemed to be a sexually violent offense will need to register every ninety days. Importantly, if you are convicted of a failure to register or re-register you could face some very serious penalties.
Failure to File Penalties
In Massachusetts, the penalty for first offense is imprisonment in a house of correction of six months to 2.5 years or not more than five years in a state prison or a fine not exceeding $1000 or both fine and imprisonment.
A subsequent or second failure to register for a sex offender crime is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison of at least five years.
Failure to File Defenses
There are a number of defenses that a person who has been charged with failure to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts:
- The defendant did not wilfully fail to register
- The defendant did not understand that he was required to register
- The defendant did register but it was the police department that lost the information
- The defendant has moved to another state but did not understand that he also needs to register in the state where he now resides
It is important to note that four elements are required for a successful prosecution of failure to register in Massachusetts:
- That the defendant resided or planned to reside, worked or planned to work, attended or planned to attend a higher learning institution, secondary school, or trade or professional institution in Massachusetts.
- That the defendant was previously convicted of a crime requiring registration, adjudicated as a sexually dangerous person, or released from being committed as a sexually dangerous person.
- That the defendant was knowledgeable of the fact that he was required to register, verify registration, provide the proper information, and notify when he moves to another address.
- That the defendant indeed failed to register, verify his information, gave erroneous information, or did not give notification about his change of address.
What to Do If You Are Charged with Failure to Register
Although the humiliation and pain of registering as a sex offender in Massachusetts can be a very difficult experience, the consequences of failing to register are much more severe. Because of that, it is important to talk to a lawyer who has experience dealing with these manner of cases. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to go over the facts of your case with you and determine whether it is possible to fight the charge.
You might also find that it is possible for your defense lawyer in Massachusetts to petition to have you taken off the registry completely. Sometimes this is possible for people who are charged with non-violent sexual crimes after fifteen years of registration. However, in order to be removed from the list, most individuals will have to complete all court-ordered treatment that they are given, as well as counseling, and finish their payment of restitution. What's more, the individual in question will need to prove to the court that they are not a risk to the safety of the public.