Massachusetts law about sex offenders

A compilation of laws, regulations, and cases on sex offender law in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.6 §§ 178C-178Q Sex offender registry law

MGL c.123A Sexually dangerous persons

MGL c.265, §§ 13B 13B-1/2 , and 13B-3/4 "Jessica's Law"
Provides mandatory sentences for certain sexual assault crimes against children

MGL c.265, § 48 Sex offenders may not engage in ice cream truck vending

Massachusetts regulations

803 CMR 1 Sex Offender Registry Board

Selected federal laws

34 USC §§ 20911-20932 Sex offender registration and notification

42 USC § 13663  Ineligibility of dangerous sex offenders for admission to public housing


Selected case law

Coe, et al. v. Sex Offenders Registry Board , 442 Mass. 250 (2004)
Permits posting of Level 3 Sex Offender information on the Internet.

Comm. v. Blake , 454 Mass. 267 (2009)
The Massachusetts SJC decided that judges have within 30 days of a trial to issue rulings in regards to deciding whether a defendant should be held indefinitely as a sexually dangerous offender.

Comm. v. Cole , 468 Mass. 294 (2014). Court held that "community parole supervision for life" under MGL c.127, s.133D (c) is an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers. The court determined that severing that section was not the proper remedy, and so decided to "strike § 133D in its entirety and order that CPSL sentences,whether imposed pursuant to G. L. c. 6, § 178H (a), or G. L. c. 265, § 45, be vacated."

Comm. v. Cory , 454 Mass. 559 (2009)
Because MGL c.265, § 47 is punitive in effect, a sex offender convicted before the effective date of § 47 (December 20, 2006) cannot be required "to be monitored by the probation department with a GPS tracking device during his probationary term" as required by that statute.

Comm. v. Gardner, 480 Mass. 551 (2018)
G. L. c. 123A does not permit the commitment of an out of state prisoner, even if he is serving the sentence from another state in a Massachusetts facility.

Comm. v. Hunt , 462 Mass. 807 (2012)
"It is error to admit evidence that a defendant refused sex offender treatment where he could receive such treatment only by waiving confidentiality."

Comm. v. Spring, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 310 (2018)
"If the jury found the defendant likely to engage solely in the noncontact offense of viewing child pornography, they could not find him to be an SDP unless they also found that the noncontact offense would instill in his victims a reasonable apprehension of being subjected to a contact sex crime." 

Comm. v. Suave, 460 Mass. 582 (2011)
In a case involving solely noncontact sex offenses against adult victims, a defendant can be found to be a menace, and therefore a sexually dangerous person, only where the Commonwealth has shown (among other things) that "the defendant's predicted sexual offenses will instill in his victims a reasonable apprehension of being subjected to a contact sex crime."

Comm. v. Wimer, 480 Mass. 1 (2018)
Where a defendant committed two separate offenses of open and gross lewdness, but pled guilty to both in the same proceeding, he did not have a "second and subsequent" conviction, and thus, was not required to register as a sex offender. 

Doe v. Boston Police Commissioner , 460 Mass. 342 (2011).
A level three sex offender was entitled to a hearing before  MGL c.6, s.178K (2)(e) (barring level three offenders from rest homes) could be applied against him.

Doe v. City of Lynn , 472 Mass. 521 (2015). 
A city ordinance that limited where sex offenders could live is unconstitutional.

Doe v. Sex Offenders Registry Board , 460 Mass. 336 (2011). 
The right to a classification hearing is not waived by failure to appear. The Sex Offender Registry Board exceeded its authority in enacting 803 CMR 1.13(2) .

Doe, SORB No. 16748 v. Sex Offender Registry Bd. , 82 Mass. App. Ct. 152 (2012) 
"[T]he board lacked authority to adopt regulations purporting to authorize it to declare that the classification level could be increased absent conviction of a new sex offense."

Doe, SORB No. 380316 v. Sex Offender Registry Board , 473 Mass. 297 (2015)
"In light of the new implications of classification at a given risk level," the Sex Offender Registry Board must establish the sex offender's risk of reoffense by clear and convincing evidence.  This is a change from the previous standard of proof of a preponderance of the evidence."

Green, petitioner , 475 Mass 624 (2016)
The Supreme Judicial Court further clarified the role of a qualified examiner under M.G.L. chap 123A sec. 9.  “[A] finding of sexual dangerousness must be based, at least in part, on credible examiner opinion testimony and that a jury instruction to that effect is essential to the informed exercise of the jury's fact-finding function.”

L.L. v. Commonwealth , 470 Mass. 169 (2014)
Outlines requirements for judge in determining whether to relieve juvenile of obligation to register. Also encourages judges to issue written findings.

Noe, SORB No. 5340 v. Sex Offender Registry Board, 480 Mass. 195 (2018)
"In sex offender reclassification proceedings involving an individual seeking downward reclassification, the Sex Offender Registry Board is constitutionally required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the classification remains current and correct, and this court further concluded that the sex offender seeking reclassification bears a burden of production to demonstrate some change in his or her circumstances. Doe, SORB 76819 v. Sex Offender Registry Board, 480 Mass. 212, decided the same day,  requires the same burdens of proof and production in proceedings to terminate a sex offender's duty to register.

R.B., petitioner, 479 Mass. 712 (2018)
"Given the fundamental liberty interest at stake in sexual dangerousness proceedings, this court concluded that it was appropriate for it to review arguments raised for the first time on appeal, and that in doing so, the court would review for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice."

Search sex offender information

Information About Sex Offenders, Mass. Sex Offender Registry Board
How to Search Sex Offender Information in Massachusetts

National Sex Offender Public Registry , US Dept. of Justice
Allows the user to search sex offender information from all states' individual databases at the same time. Searches must be done by name, not just by locality

Print sources

Sex Offender Registry Practice, 2d ed. MCLE, looseleaf.

Trying Sex Offense Cases in Massachusetts, 2d ed., MCLE, looseleaf.



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: November 6, 2018


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