BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board has the burden of proof when determining whether a sex offender should not be moved to a less dangerous classification, the state’s highest court ruled Wednesday.
The Supreme Judicial Court also ruled in separate cases that indigent sex offenders have a right to legal counsel in reclassification hearings, and that those hearings must be held within a “reasonable” period of time.
The board already is required to provide “clear and convincing evidence” when initially determining which of three classification levels a sex offender should receive, based upon their risk of committing new offenses. Those placed in the more serious Level 2 or Level 3 categories are subject to having their names and pictures posted on a public website by the state.
But when a sex offender requested to be moved to a lower classification, or removed from the registry altogether, the board argued that it was the burden of the individual to prove why he or she should deserved to be reclassified.
The court found otherwise.