Massachusetts Sex Offender Registration and Classification

Criminal Defense Law Office of John L. Calcagni, III

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Sex offender registration is a collateral consequence to a sex offense conviction.  

Convicted sex offenders must register with the police department in the city or town where they live and must comply with mandatory counseling requirements. 

Registered offenders may also have limits on their liberties such as:

  • travel out-of-state;
  • overnight stays in locations other than their registered addresses;
  • limits on where they may live or work;
  • limits against visiting schools,
  • parks or other places where children congregate;
  • and more.  

Registered sex offenders may also be required to give up certain rights to privacy by submitting to warrantless searches of their homes, persons, phones, computers, and other electronic devices.  

Some are also required to wear GPS monitoring devices so the government may track their locations and movements. 

Sex Offender Registration and Classification Process in Massachusetts

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a sex offender is defined as any person who lives, works, or attends school in MA who has been convicted of a sex offense.

Sex offenders must register with the MA Sex Offender Registry on an annual basis. Offenders must also update their information in the registry if they make certain life changes.

When an offender has a secondary address, which is defined as anywhere an offender lives, or stays, at least 14 days of the year, or anywhere an offender lives or stays for at least 4 days a month, they must still register that address.

If an offender:

  • Moves to MA from another state, they must register as a sex offender within 2 days of moving. If the offender already lives in MA but moves elsewhere within the state, they must register their new address 10 days before moving.
  • Moves out of MA, they must notify the Sex Offender Registry Board at least 10 days before moving, and then register as a sex offender in whatever state they move to. Any offenders living in a homeless shelter must verify their registry information every 30 days with their local police department.
  • Lives in another state but works in MA, they must register as a sex offender in MA within 2 days of starting their job, and register their work address within 10 days of starting their job. If an offender changes jobs within MA, they must register their new work address within 10 days of starting.
  • Who lives in another state attends school in MA, they must register as a sex offender in MA within 10 days of starting school.

The offender will be prosecuted if they knowingly fail to register; fail to verify their registration information; fail to update changes in their address, work, or school; or give any false information.

Penalties for first-time violations include 6 months to 2.5 years in a house of correction, and a maximum of 5 years in state prison, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. Penalties for repeat violations include a minimum of 5 years in state prison.

There are three levels of sex offenders in MA

They are classified based on their risk of re-offending and the degree of danger they pose to the public.  

  • Level I: Assessed as low risk of re-offending; pose a low degree of danger to the public.
  • Level II: Assessed as moderate risk of re-offending; pose a moderate degree of danger to the public.
  • Level III: Assessed as high risk of re-offending; pose a high degree of danger to the public.

Once a sex offender registers with the Sex Offender Registry Board, the Board will determine the offender’s risk level. The Board will take into consideration several factors when making this determination.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • their criminal history factors relating to the risk of re-offending and dangerousness;
  • conditions of release that minimize risk of re-offense/dangerousness such as parole supervision;
  • counseling; residential program etc.;
  • physical conditions that minimize risk of re-offense (e.g., debilitating illness);
  • the offender’s history of alcohol/substance abuse;
  • and whether the offender was a juvenile at time of offense, their response to treatment, and subsequent criminal history.

Classification review

After an unclassified sex offender registers with the Sex Offender Registry Board, they’re assigned for classification review.

They are then given 30 days to submit information to the Registry Board regarding sex offender specific treatment, current lifestyle, employment and living situation, alcohol/drug abuse treatment, and any other information the offender seeks to have considered.

The Registry Board will also gather other information such as victim impact statements, police reports, court records, probation and parole records, state and national criminal records, etc.

A single Board member will examine all the materials provided and then consider the risk-level factors described above to help make their decision.

The Board member then issues a preliminary classification level recommending the offender as Level I, II, or III, and makes a recommendation regarding whether the offender has a duty to register with the Board or not.

The offender is then notified in writing of their preliminary classification and has 20 days to either accept the preliminary classification and waive his right to a hearing and an appeal; or request a hearing to challenge the preliminary classification.

The preliminary classification level is not accessible to victims or the public.

If the offender requests a hearing

If the offender requests a hearing, they will be given all the materials reviewed as part of their primary classification.

The hearing will be conducted by a single examiner and will involve an independent review of all the materials and factors considered.

This hearing is not open to the public, including victims.

Following the hearing, the hearing examiner will issue a written decision determining the offender’s duty to register as a sex offender, and the current risk level the offender poses to the public.

Once the Sex Offender Registry Board notifies the offender in writing of his final classification level, the offender must register with the Board with the level they were classified as.

If the Board determines that the offender does not have a duty to register, the offender’s name will be removed from the Sex Offender Registry.

The offender has the right to appeal the final classification level within 30 days in Superior Court.

A sex offender’s risk level will determine to what extent public access to information pertaining to the offender is necessary.

Most of the state and government agencies will be supplied with the information for Level I offenders but not the public.

However, members of the public will be able to access Level II offender data online for those offenders who were classified after July 12, 2013.

For Level III offenders, their risk of re-offense is high, and the degree of dangerousness is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by active dissemination (community notification) of Sex Offender Registry information.

Therefore, in addition to the (8) government entities listed under Level I, information about Level III offenders will be made publicly available. It can also be obtained at local police departments and through the online registry.

Regarding Level III offenders, guidelines require police department(s) to actively notify organizations and individual members of the public in the community that are likely to encounter a Level III sex offender via a community notification plan.

The plan requires notification by the police department to all schools in the area. The police department may also notify daycare centers, youth programs, recreational programs, etc., at its discretion.

The method of communication notification may also include publication in local newspapers, announcements via local cable television, posting on the police department website, and posting the information in publicly accessible areas, such as city halls or libraries.

If the Level III offender has been designated a sexually violent predator, community notification shall occur every 90 days.

Community notification shall also occur each time a Level III offender changes their home address, secondary address, or work address, or enrolls as a student.

An offender may seek relief from the obligation of registering as a sex offender by filing a motion with the Sex Offender Registry Board.

This can be done both prior to the offender’s final classification, and after the offender’s registration and classification, determination has become final.

The offender will have the burden to prove they do not qualify as a sex offender (as defined by M.G.L. c. 6 § 178C) or that they do not pose a risk to re-offend or a danger to the public.

There are limitations on when an offender may seek relief, based on the circumstances of their offense, and the process differs depending on whether a final determination has been made.

Therefore, it is important that any offender wishing to seek relief from registration contact a criminal defense attorney.

Similarly, an offender may file a motion for reclassification of their assigned risk level. Offenders will have the burden to prove their risk of re-offense and degree of dangerousness have decreased since their final classification.

The Board will consider a variety of factors, including participation in sex offender treatment, stability of the current environment and support systems, living a substance-free and offense-free lifestyle.

Offenders with final classifications as Level II or III offenders may seek reclassification three years after the date of their final classification.

Offenders who have been convicted of a new sex offense may not seek classification sooner than 10 years since the date of the last classification decision.

The Board also holds the ability to reclassify an offender upon receipt of information that indicates the offender has an increased risk to offend or of dangerousness.

Information indicating the offender is under investigation for a new sex offense, has been terminated from a sex offender treatment program, or has demonstrated a lack of stability in the community, may trigger a reclassification.

Sex Offender Registration Crimes List

In Massachusetts, a criminal conviction to any of the following Massachusetts sex offenses requires mandatory sex offender registration:

  • Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14 (MGL c 254, § 13B)
  • Aggravated Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14 (MGL c 265, § 13B 1/2);
  • Indecent Assault and Battery on a Mentally Retarded Person (MGL c 265, § 13F)
  • Indecent Assault and Battery on a Person Age 14 or Over (MGL c 265, § 13H)
  • Rape (MGL c 265, § 22)
  • Rape of a Child Under 16 with Force (MGL c 265, § 22A)
  • Aggravated Rape of a Child Under 16 with Force (MGL c 265, § 22B)
  • Rape and Abuse of a Child (MGL c 265, § 23)
  • Aggravated Rape and Abuse of a Child (MGL c 265, § 23A)
  • Assault with Intent to Commit Rape (MGL c 265, § 24)
  • Assault of a Child with Intent to Commit Rape (MGL c 265, § 24B)
  • Kidnapping of a Child (MGL c 265, § 26)
  • Enticing a Child Under Age 16
  • Enticing a Child under 18 Via Electronic Communication to Engage in Prostitution, Human Trafficking or Commercial Sexual Activity
  • Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude (MGL c 265, § 50)
  • Enticing Away a Person for Prostitution or Sexual Intercourse (MGL c 272, § 2)
  • Drugging Persons for Sexual Intercourse (MGL c 272, § 3)
  • Inducing a Minor into Prostitution (MGL c 272, § 4A)
  • Living Off or Sharing Earnings of a Minor Prostitute (MGL c 272, § 4B)
  • Subsequent Conviction for Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior (MGL c 272, § 16)
  • Incestuous Marriage or Intercourse (MGL c 272, § 17)
  • Disseminating to a Minor Harmful Matter (MGL c 272, § 28)
  • Creating Child Pornography (MGL c 272, § 29A)
  • Distributing Child Pornography (MGL c 272, § 29B)
  • Possession of Child Pornography (MGL c 272, § 29C)
  • Unnatural and Lascivious Acts with a Child Under 16 (MGL c 272, § 35A)
  • Engaging in Sexual Contact with an Animal (MGL c 272, § 77C)
  • Aggravated Rape (MGL c 277, § 39).

If you have been charged or convicted of a Massachusetts sex crime, contact Massachusetts sex crime defense lawyer, John L. Calcagni III today for a free consultation.   You may call the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III at (508) 213-9113 or send an email.