Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) Litigation

Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) Litigation

Our client, a female who had been convicted of an economically motivated noncontact prostitution-related offense (unknowingly employing a minor in an escort service), was classified as a Level One sex offender by the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) and sought to be relieved of the obligation to register. On appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), we argued that the SORB arbitrarily and capriciously failed to consider the relevance of our client’s gender to the assessment of her risk of reoffense, and erred in denying her funds for an expert on female sex offenders. In a landmark decision, the SJC agreed, recognizing that the SORB guidelines are out of date and holding that it was an abuse of discretion for the SORB to refuse to consider recent and relevant scientific research merely because such research is not contemplated by the outdated SORB regulations.  The SJC additionally broadened the scope of expert funds requests by holding  that where a request for expert funds identifies a specific issue not contemplated by the SORB guidelines, and which an available expert is qualified to address, expert funds should be authorized.

Our client originally came to us as a Level Two offender who had been convicted of failure to register, and against whom the prosecution sought to impose a sentence of lifetime community parole.  We convinced the SORB to vacate his Level Two and grant him a new hearing on grounds that he had never received notice of his right to a SORB hearing.  Following a reinstated SORB hearing, he was classified as a Level One. As a result, the criminal sentence of lifetime community parole could not be imposed.  Subsequently, we successfully argued before the Superior Court that the same client should be entirely relieved of the obligation to register because his underlying out-of-state conviction did not qualify as a “sex offense” under Massachusetts law.   He was relieved from the obligation to register.  We then moved to vacate our client’s guilty plea in the criminal case on grounds that there was an insufficient factual basis for the plea and that prior counsel was ineffective in advising our client to plead guilty.  The court agreed, and vacated the guilty plea, dismissed the criminal charges, and sealed the case.  Not only will our client no longer have to register as a sex offender, our client’s Massachusetts CORI will no longer show any reference to having ever been deemed a “sex offender.”

Our client originally came to us as a Level Three offender who had been convicted of failure to register and was incarcerated for a violation of lifetime community parole.  We succeeded in vacating the sentence of lifetime community parole on grounds that the criminal complaint with which he had been charged did not permit such a sentence, and he was released from incarceration.  Subsequently, we succeeded in vacating the Level Three classification and obtaining a new hearing before the SORB, at which he received a Level Two classification.  After that, we successfully argued before the Superior Court that our client should be completely relieved of the obligation to register on grounds that his underlying out-of-state conviction was not a “sex offense” under Massachusetts sex offender registry law. Finally, we succeeded in vacating his criminal conviction for failure to register as a sex offender, and in sealing the charges of failure to register from his criminal record.  Not only is our client no longer a Level Three offender on lifetime community parole; he will no longer be required to register as a sex offender at all in Massachusetts, and any references to his having ever been deemed a “sex offender” will no longer appear on his Massachusetts record.

Our client, who had been convicted of statutory rape and indecent assault and battery on a person under 14 over twenty years ago, came to us having been classified as a Level Two offender in 2003, over a decade ago.  Representing our client on a petition for reclassification, we argued that our client currently poses no cognizable risk of re-offense and should be relieved of the obligation to register.  SORB agreed that our client poses no cognizable risk of re-offense, but nonetheless issued a Level One classification, claiming the statute bars complete relief for those convicted of a sex offense involving a child.  We argued before the Superior Court that where a petitioner poses no cognizable risk of re-offense the petitioner must be relieved regardless of the offense of conviction.  The Superior Court agreed, and ordered our client relieved of the obligation to register as a sex offender.

Our client, who had been convicted many years ago of indecent assault and battery, was initially classified as a Level One sex offender by the Sex Offender Registry Board. Following a hearing before SORB, he was entirely relieved of the obligation to register.

Our client was required to register with SORB based on his conviction of aggravated rape, kidnaping, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. SORB initially classified him as a Level Two sex offender. He hired us following the initial classification to represent him at a hearing on final classification. We succeeded in getting the classification reduced to a Level One, such that our client’s sex offender information will not be available to the public.

Our client pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was classified as a Level Two sex offender by the SORB.  On appeal, we argued that there was insufficient evidence before the SORB to support the Level Two classification and that the SORB improperly rejected expert testimony that our client posed a low risk of reoffense.  The Superior Court agreed, and reduced our client’s registration level to a Level One. Our client’s information is no longer publicly disseminated.