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Note: We do not do any sex registry work but we do handle all sex-related cases
Sex crimes are among the most destructive, antisocial behaviors in our whole society. Everyone throughout the country understands the severity of these types of crimes.
The severity of sex crimes is the reason why these crimes are punished so harshly, not just in the form of fines and jail time, but also in the form of the sex offender registry.
Whenever certain sex crimes are committed – and we will discuss these specific crimes below – the convicted offender is required to register as a sex offender with Maine’s official sex offender registry. This registry, as we’ve talked about previously, is operated by Maine’s State Bureau of Identification (SBI).
If you’re a convicted offender and you’re obligated to register as with your local sex offender registry, you need to know all the various steps and procedures involved with turning in your registration and keeping your registration active. There are many rules which govern the registration process, and offender’s need to take the initiative to stay up-to-date and ensure that everything is complied with properly.
If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, you need to obtain qualified counsel immediately, because dealing with a sex crime allegation alone is not a recommended practice.
Furthermore, if you end up grappling with a conviction, you need someone who can guide you through all the steps involved with the sex offender registration process.
The procedure involved for registering as a sex offender in Maine is complicated: the registry itself has many parts and components, and keeping up with all the various requirements is something which takes a good amount of effort and work. Not all sex crime convictions will impose a requirement that the offender register with the SBI; as we referenced earlier, only certain crimes will trigger this requirement.
The timing of a crime is relevant, because Maine changed its requirements with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2013 (SORNA 2013).
Prior to SORNA, the key law on this issue was SORNA 1999, which provided a clear differentiation between non-violent sex crimes and violent sex crimes. If an offender registered under SORNA 1999, then that offender either has to maintain his or her registration for 10 years or for a lifetime.
By contrast, now, under the more recent SORNA 2013, registrants are divided into three separate categories, or “tiers,” which reflect different levels of severity. Each registrant tier has its own requirements when it comes to staying updated with the registry.
One of the key aspects of the sex offender registry system is the fact that the registration requirement is an “active requirement,” which means that the offender has the burden of initiating the registration process. Laypeople may assume – not without some basis – that the registration process would be assisted or facilitated in a greater way by the SBI, the courts, or some other state entity. But the only assistance that registrants receive is a notification from the court regarding the requirement itself, and how long the registrant will need to remain in the registry system. Again, this is highly significant, because a registrant cannot use this lack of guidance or direction as an excuse for failing to register. And, as we will see, failing to register (and failing to keep registration up-to-date) carries substantial penalties.
After being notified of the requirement to register with the SBI, the offender will need to gather certain information relevant to the offender’s person and crime. The offender will need to deliver his or her name, aliases, date of birth, personal characteristics (sex or gender, race, eye color, weight, height, etc.), a current photograph, copies of fingerprints, details regarding the underlying sex crime conviction, details on mental health treatment relevant to the conviction, and future addresses (for personal residence, work, school, etc.). The purpose of all this information, of course, is to ensure that offenders can be tracked and monitored easily; this helps to ensure that communities are kept safe, as sex crime offenders are known to pose a somewhat higher risk of harming local residents than non-offenders. This is merely a statistical phenomenon, rather than a statement against any individual offender.
Expectedly, if an offender wants to uproot and move to another location, he or she has a duty to inform the local police station (in the new area) about the intended relocation.
Not only do offenders have the burden of taking the initiative to setup their registration, they are also required to periodically update their information so that it remains accurate. In addition, as just mentioned, whenever an offender changes location, the SBI needs to be notified immediately; as a rule, the offender has 24 hours to notify the local police department of the change, and 72 hours to notify the SBI.
The frequency by which an offender must update his or her information depends on the severity of the underlying offense. As mentioned, SORNA 2013 divided registrants into three categories – Tier I, Tier II and Tier III, with Tier III representing the most serious cases.
Fortunately for registrants, the SBI provides a reminder to registrants regarding upcoming updates, and will send these reminders to registrants 10 days prior to the deadline. The SBI also provides a standard “verification form” which is used to update the registrant’s profile.
The sex offender registry is one of those powerful deterrents to sex crime offenses which is often forgotten or overlooked. The registry is a public phenomenon, and so anyone in the State of Maine can search through and view the database at any time. This state of affairs is necessary to maximize the safety of residents throughout Maine. What happens when an offender is required to register with the SBI registry? We can say with confidence that registration as an offender carries various long-term implications for registrants.
Registrants will likely face professional setbacks, including difficulty in obtaining certain types of employment, for a long time after being placed in the system. Many registrants will be unable to achieve the same types of professional goals following registration than they would if they weren’t saddled with this requirement. But this is precisely the kind of deterring impact that the registry system is supposed to create.
No, unlike many other states across the country, the State of Maine does not have restricted areas which prohibit registered sex offenders from living or working in certain locations. However, readers need to know that this only applies to the state level: Maine currently doesn’t have a statewide prohibition in this way, but some communities in Maine have passed their own local ordinances which do actually restrict the ability of sex offenders to live or work in specific places. Offenders will need to either research this matter, or obtain assistance, when they attempt to settle in a certain location after being released from incarceration.
As mentioned, failing to register (and also failing to remain up-to-date) carries harsh consequences; the SBI doesn’t treat mishaps in this area as mere inconveniences, it considers these failures as serious threats against Maine communities.
Statistically, those with a sex crime record are more likely to cause harm to residents, and so the State of Maine takes the registry very seriously. If an offender is obligated to register, that person will be charged with a Class D misdemeanor for failing to register for the first time.
The penalties for a first offense are a maximum sentence of 364 days and a maximum fine of $2,000. For second instances, the crime is a Class C felony, and the corresponding penalties are up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Finally, for a third instance the crime is a Class B felony, and the penalties are up to 10 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
In order to be saddled with the burden of registering as a sex offender, there first needs to be a conviction for a sex crime. For this reason, readers should know that the State of Maine has statutes of limitations which apply to various sex crimes. If a crime isn’t charged within its corresponding deadline, a charge cannot be made at all, and this means that there won’t be any registration as an offender with the SBI. For felonies – which means Class A, B and C offenses – the statute of limitations is typically 6 years; however, for certain felonies, such as those involving a child victim, there is no statute of limitations at all. So, if an offender commits gross sexual assault against a minor under the age of 16, there is no statute of limitations and the crime can be prosecuted forever. The same is true for all the other sex crimes involving minor children, such as statutory rape, unlawful sexual contact, incest, and others.
The answer to this question is “yes,” and this is certainly an important fact that people need to be aware of. To be convicted of a sex crime allegation, the alleged offender must commit the offense of his or her own volition, which means that there cannot be any coercion, duress or compulsion involved in the commission of the crime.
If an alleged offense is shown to be the outcome of coercion, then the offender will be able to successfully use the defense of entrapment. This often comes up when police try to setup a “sting,” or undercover operation, for the purpose of arresting offenders for prostitution or other sex crimes. If, during an undercover operation, for instance, the police compel an offender to commit a crime, or achieve an arrest by way of deception, the defense of entrapment will probably succeed.
Maine’s sex offender registry is a well-conceived, elaborate system which has its own set of rules, policies and regulations. For now, the details sketched above are accurate, but we may see important changes to this system in the near future. Just as we saw big changes with SORNA 2013, we will likely see additional changes down the line, although we can’t predict what exactly those changes might be.
Hopefully, these details provided here will be enough to help readers understand and navigate this system more smoothly. As we mentioned before, if you’ve been charged with a sex crime, dealing with these charges alone is not recommended. A skilled attorney is practically a necessity, because combatting these charges is almost never an easy task.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
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