ex crimes carry some of the harshest punishments in our criminal system today. If convicted, your name is permanently registered in a sex offender database accessible by the public. Even after you’ve served your sentence, this can make finding a place to live or a job very difficult. Individuals charged with sex crimes who are acquitted can face negative stereotyping and fall victim to rumors that can affect your friendships, home life, and other relationships.
Sex Offense Penalties and Collateral Consequences
If you’ve been accused of a sex offense, you need tough defense to defend against severe penalties. Even so-called “low level” sex offenses can warrant sex offender registration and a stigma that lasts much longer than any court-mandated penalty. Penalties vary in severity based on factors such as:
- Prior sex offenses
- Violent vs. nonviolent sex offense
- The age of the alleged victim
Most individuals who are found guilty of sex offenses will face penalties such as imprisonment, fines, restitution to the victim(s), and sex offender registration.
In addition to these court-mandated penalties, there are also a number of collateral consequences of a sex crime conviction. These can include:
- Difficulty finding housing – There are many residential restrictions on registered sex offenders. You may not be allowed to live in certain areas (ex: in close proximity to schools and public parks), and some landlords will not rent to registered sex offenders.
- Child custody / visitation harms – If you are currently in a child custody or visitation agreement, a sex crime conviction may harm your ability to see your child.
- Difficulty finding employment – Some employers may not be willing to hire or retain employees who are convicted of sex offenses.
Sex Offender Registration in Massachusetts
There is some degree of confusion when it comes to sex offender registration in Massachusetts, especially with somewhat recent changes to the law. Below you will find information on sex offender registration in question & answer form.
Who has to register?
Anyone convicted for one or more of certain sex offenses, including: indecent assault and battery, rape, kidnapping a child, date rape, and others. For a complete list of sex offenses that can warrant registration, visit the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security.
How long will I have to register?
In Massachusetts, there are three levels of sex offenders. Level 1 offenders are considered the lowest risk to public safety. All sex offenders, levels one through three, may be required to register for 20 years to life, although some can petition to SORB to end their duty to register after 10 years.
What are some of the residency restrictions?
Changes to the law in 2006 required all registered sex offenders to provide information on their permanent address as well as any secondary address. The change in law also made it a crime for Level 3 sex offenders to live in certain nursing homes. Any registered sex offender moving to Massachusetts must register 10 days prior to moving.
What happens if I fail to register?
Failure to comply with Massachusetts sex offender registration requirements is a crime in itself, and can warrant imprisonment, fines, community parole supervision, and more.
Facing rape allegations?
Rape, according to § 265.22 of the penal code, is sexual intercourse (oral or anal) accomplished by the use of physical force or threatened bodily injury. We will defend people facing general rape charges, date rape, and statutory rape (also called sex with a minor).
Sex Crimes Involving Children
Sex crime allegations involving children and minors carry the most severe penalties.
Battery Over 14
Sexual abuse of a child that is older than 14 does not carry the penalties listed in Chapter 265 § 13B of the penal code. However, it is still considered a felony in some cases and it is punishable by no more than five years in state prison.
Battery Under 14
Although the age of consent in Massachusetts is 16, crimes of the sexual nature are more severe for those who are accused of assaulting an individual under the age of 14. This is in accordance with Chapter 265 § 13B of the penal code. Punishments are a minimum of 10 years in state prison.
Abuse against a child is not always sexual in nature. Abandonment, neglect and other forms of physical abuse are all valid claims. Sexual abuse of an individual under the age of 16 is punishable with jail time.
Being found in possession of child pornography, whether physical or over the internet, is a federal crime. Being found responsible for disseminating or creating the sexual depictions of minors is also child pornography. A conviction for either will warrant sex offender registration.