Sex Offender Registration
- One of the most serious aspects of a conviction for a sex crime is a requirement to register as a sex offender. Ideally this consequence should be considered prior to the disposition of the charge for which the individual has to register. Unfortunately, many lawyers do not understand or grasp the seriousness of having to register as a sex offender, Attorney Erickson does.
- One often asks “Why is an attorney necessary before the board?” An attorney is necessary for many reasons but the most important reason is that a determination of a sex offender level of registration is a complicated decision based on sophisticated dangerousness and recidivism research. The petitioner needs an experienced attorney like Attorney Erickson who has this specialized experience when appearing before the Sex Offender Registry Board.
- It is also important to have an attorney since many of the Sex Offender Registry Boards laws, rules, and regulation are subject to an attack on Federal and State constitutional grounds. For example, the Sex Offender Registry Board claim that certain offenses require lifetime registration, but under the decisions of the appellate courts in Massachusetts this is simply not so. A Sex Offender Registry Board experienced attorney will be able to press this point.
- Attorney Erickson has been successful in reducing classification levels at SORB hearings and obtaining new successful classification hearings on appeal. Recently, he had a client relieved of his lifetime registration requirement. Each step in the registration process is critical and time sensitive. a Attorney Erickson is ready to assist you, call him today.
Initial Letter or Notice
Attorney Erickson will review the facts and circumstances of the case requiring registration and the factors which are used in determining the registration level. Although many favorable factors are detailed in the Sex Offender Registry Board's regulations many are not. Additionally, Attorney Erickson will determine if any of the factors relied on by the Sex Offender Registry Board need to be challenged. Attorney Erickson will apply the research to the facts and circumstances of the individual's case to determine the best method of responding to a registration letter.
Call Attorney Erickson to talk about your classification notice.
A hearing is scheduled where the person can bring in evidence in support of his request for lower classification level. Attorney Erickson will consider what needs to be done to present your case in the best light possible. This includes examining the earlier conviction to determine if other facts could be brought out which are favorable to your case, calling witnesses to testify in support of a lower classification level, providing the hearing officer with research on relevant recidivism and dangerousness issues, or calling an expert witness to testify with respect to dangerousness and recidivism. Following this hearing a classification level decision will be sent to you.
Call Attorney Erickson to discuss your de novo SORB hearing.
If unsuccessful in the superior court, the petitioner can appeal into the Massachusetts appellate courts. Our appellate courts includes the Supreme Judicial Court, the state's highest court, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
An appeal is different from any agency hearing since the court will only consider questions of law. It will be necessary to file a brief or memorandum of law which will set out the petitioner’s claims and request relief. The matter will be decided and a written decision will be issued.
Call Attorney Erickson for a free consultation about your Sex Offense Registry Board decision.
Reduction Or Termination Of Sex Offender Registration
Attorney Erickson will analyze the facts of your underlying conviction and any recent developments in your life, review recent recidivism research as it applies to your case and determine if it is advisable to consult with an expert. Thereafter, Attorney Erickson will determine the best course in presenting a motion to the SORB.
Some of the key points Attorney Erickson will look at are the following: base rate, current age, passage of time, and adult vs. juvenile offenses. Base Rate: The Base Rate For Sex Offenders Is 13.4 PercentIncreasing Age Means Lower RiskPassage Of Time: Offense Free Time Means Lower RiskAdult Vs. Juvenile Offenses: Offenses While A Juvenile Mean Lower Recidivism Rates
Base Rate: The Base Rate For Sex Offenders Is 13.4 Percent
Hanson and Bussiere 1998 also noted at p 351 that: “Many of the sexual criminal history variables showed small to moderate correlations with recidivism. The risk of sexual recidivism was increased for those who has prior sexual offenses (.19), had victimized strangers, had an extrafamilial victim, began offending sexually at an early age, had selected male victims, or had engaged in diverse sexual crimes. Neither the degree of sexual contact, or force used, nor injury to victims were significant predictors of sexual offense recidivism.” Call Attorney Erickson to discuss your case and how the research effects it.
Increasing Age Means Lower Risk
Call Attorney Erickson to discuss age research and how it effects your case.
Passage Of Time: Offense Free Time Means Lower Risk
Call Attorney Erickson to discuss the law and how it effects your case.
Adult Vs. Juvenile Offenses: Offenses While A Juvenile Mean Lower Recidivism Rates
The study of various facts generally correlated with risk have failed to demonstrate comprehensive factors with a strong relationship to sexually recidivism risk in juveniles. “Recidivism research on adolescent sexual offenders is sparse, and most studies, . . . suffer from methodological inadequacies and are generally unworthy of conventional confidence levels.” Kahn, Timothy J. and Chambers, Heather J. (1991) Assessing Reoffense Risk with Juvenile Sexual Offenders, Child Welfare, Vol. LXX, No 3., May-June 1991 citing Furby, Lita; Weinrott, Mark; and Blackshaw, Lyn. (1987) Sex Offender Recidivism: A Review, Eugene Research Institute Report 87-5. Manuscript submitted for publication 1987. (Available from ERI, 47 Willamette St., Eugene, OR 97401.).
Against this backdrop, some studies have suggested that a relationship exists between some facts others have suggested otherwise. For example, at least one researcher article has suggested a relationship between the following facts and sexual reoffense: psychopathy, deviant arousal, cognitive distortions, truancy, a prior (known) sex offense, blaming the victim, and use of threat/force. Righthand, Sue and Welch, Carlann, Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended: A review of the Professional Literature; Office of U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, D.C. March 2001 citing Weinrott, M. (1998) Empirically-based treatment interventions for juvenile sex offenders. Presentation sponsored by the Child Abuse Action Network and the State Forensic Service, Augusta, ME, August 1998.
Due to a juvenile’s developing sexual nature these factors most likely cannot be used to assess a juveniles recidivism risk. Nesbet, Ian A.; Wilson, Peter H.; Smallhouse, Stephen W. (2004) A prospective Longitudinal Study of Sexual Recidivism Among Adolescent Sex Offenders, Sex Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 16, No. 3 July 2004. Nesbit et al 2004 noted that sexual deviance as a predictor remained unclear. Antisocial personality disorder is not diagnosable until the patient is 18 years of age. American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000
Given the failure to identify solid recidivism factors it is not surprising that predictive juvenile actuarial instruments have not been useful. The Juvenile Sexual Offense Recidivism Risk Assessment Tool–II (J-SORRAT-II), Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth SAVRY), and Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol–II (J-SOAP-II) to have generally been found to be inadequate to predict sexual recidivism. Viljoen, Jodi L. et al, Assessing Risk for Violence in Adolescents who have Sexually Offended: A comparison of the J-SOAP-II, J-SORRAT-II, and SAVRY, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 35, No. 1 January 2009 p. 5 (2008).
The United States Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 569-570 (2005) noted that:
“Three general differences between juveniles under 18 and adults demonstrate that juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified among the worst offenders. First, as any parent knows and as the scientific and sociological studies respondent and his amici cite tend to confirm, "[a] lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility are found in youth more often than in adults and are more understandable among the young. These qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions." Johnson, supra, at 367; see also Eddings, supra, at 115-116 ("Even the normal 16-year-old customarily lacks the maturity of an adult"). It has been noted that "adolescents are overrepresented statistically in virtually every category of reckless behavior." Arnett, Reckless Behavior in Adolescence: A Developmental Perspective, 12 Developmental Review 339 (1992). In recognition of the comparative immaturity and irresponsibility of juveniles, almost every State prohibits those under 18 years of age from voting, serving on juries, or marrying without parental consent. See Appendixes B-D, infra.
The second area of difference is that juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure. Eddings, supra, at 115 ("[Y]outh is more than a chronological fact. It is a time and condition of life when a person may be most susceptible to influence and to psychological damage"). This is explained in part by the prevailing circumstance that juveniles have less control, or less experience with control, over their own environment. See Steinberg & Scott, Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence: Developmental Immaturity, Diminished Responsibility, and the Juvenile Death Penalty, 58 Am. Psychologist 1009, 1014 (2003) (hereinafter Steinberg & Scott) ("[A]s legal minors, [juveniles] lack the freedom that adults have to extricate themselves from a criminogenic setting").
The third broad difference is that the character of a juvenile is not as well formed as that of an adult. The personality traits of juveniles are more transitory, less fixed. See generally E. Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968).
These differences render suspect any conclusion that a juvenile falls among the worst offenders. The susceptibility of juveniles to immature and irresponsible behavior means "their irresponsible conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult." Thompson, supra, at 835 (plurality opinion). Their own vulnerability and comparative lack of control over their immediate surroundings mean juveniles have a greater claim than adults to be forgiven for failing to escape negative influences in their whole environment. See Stanford, 492 U. S., at 395 (Brennan, J., dissenting). The reality that juveniles still struggle to define their identity means it is less supportable to conclude that even a heinous crime committed by a juvenile is evidence of irretrievably depraved character. From a moral standpoint it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor's character deficiencies will be reformed. Indeed, "[t]he relevance of youth as a mitigating factor derives from the fact that the signature qualities of youth are transient; as individuals mature, the impetuousness and recklessness that may dominate in younger years can subside." Johnson, supra, at 368; see also Steinberg & Scott 1014 ("For most teens, [risky or antisocial] behaviors are fleeting; they cease with maturity as individual identity becomes settled. Only a relatively small proportion of adolescents who experiment in risky or illegal activities develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior that persist into adulthood").
Call Attorney Erickson to discuss juvenile brain development and how it effects your case.