The Hearings Process Before The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board
The classification process typically starts when you get a letter from the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), giving you an opportunity to submit evidence to the Board. Then there is a preliminary classification based on what you send the SORB and what they receive from other agencies, such as the Department of Corrections, probation and perhaps the police. Hiring an attorney at this early stage to file a preliminary classification submission on your behalf will greatly increase your chances of receiving a more favorable preliminary classification.
You will receive a letter notifying you of your preliminary classification. You can either accept this classification or you can request a hearing to contest the classification.
Boston-based attorney Kate Frame served an eight-year term on the SORB. She understands the information they are looking for, and she can help you determine whether or not you should contest your classification. In most cases, it is in your best interests to challenge the classification and request a hearing as the failure to do so may result in your image and registration information being posted on the SORB’s website. The initial classification hearing is your chance to prevent the irreparable harm that will result from a public and likely inaccurate posting identifying you as a dangerous sex offender.
Why You Need An Attorney For Your Hearing
It is important to have a skilled and experienced advocate represent you at the SORB hearing. This may be your only opportunity to go before the Board and present your case.
At the hearing, there are many legal motions that can be filed and research that should be presented to increase your chances of obtaining a favorable result. Attorney Frame is familiar with SORB’s procedures and the research studies the Board can take into consideration when making their decision.
At the hearing, it is important to have an attorney assess which witnesses should be called and who can demonstrate that your living situation is stable. Attorney Frame often uses expert witnesses to present up-to-date research and evidence to the SORB. She can bring to your case input from forensic experts who have testified successfully before the Board.
What Happens During And After The SORB Hearing
SORB hearings are confidential and not open to the public. Since 2020, the SORB has been conducting hearings by videoconference on a platform known as “Webex.”
A Hearing Examiner will act as a judge during the hearing. He or she will rule on what evidence will come in or stay out. The SORB will be represented by an attorney. This attorney and your own attorney can make opening statements, present evidence and make closing arguments, and in this regard the SORB hearing is similar to a trial.
After the hearing, and after a careful examination of the evidence, the Hearing Examiner will write a decision. He or she will consider a wide range of factors, including:
- Stability of your living situation and relationships
- Your length of time in the community
- Nature of the offense
- Whether the offense involved single or multiple incidents
- Any psychiatric information that is available
- Your overall criminal history
- Your behavior while incarcerated
- Whether you have alcohol or substance abuse issues
- Any treatment you have received
Juveniles And Classifications
If you were convicted as a juvenile, there are special rules and procedures for classifications. This area of the law is constantly changing, and there is a great deal of research on sex offender recidivism of past juvenile offenders, which should be offered at your hearing. Attorney Frame can help you understand your rights throughout this process.