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Registering as a Sex Offender in Maine

While many sex offenses lead to steep fines and lengthy jail sentences, the harshest penalty is often being required to register as a sex offender. Registering as a sex offender brings some severe social stigmatization and can even make it difficult to find and keep a job. Not complying with the law, though, can come with serious penalties.

The criminal defense lawyers at WTB Law explain.

Maine's Sex Offender Registry

When people are convicted of certain sex crimes, one of the penalties is that they have to register as a sex offender. This registry is run by the State Bureau of Identification, a division at the Maine State Police.

The repercussions of having to register as a sex offender are very real. The sex offender registry in Maine is publicly accessible, so anyone in the state or elsewhere can search it for people who have an eligible conviction. This includes new neighbors who see you move in down the street as well as potential employers.

Unlike in many other states, Maine does not prohibit convicted sex offenders from living in certain areas. However, some towns have passed local ordinances that do limit where convicted sex offenders can live.

When Registering as a Sex Offender is a Requirement

Not all convictions for sex crimes require you to register as a sex offender in Maine. To make matters even more complex, Maine changed its sex offender registration requirements on January 1, 2013.

For cases that happened in 2012 or before, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 1999 (SORNA 1999) differentiates between “sex offenses” and “violent sex offenses.” Sex offenders who have registered under SORNA 1999 are either 10-year registrants or lifetime registrants. Sex offenders who only have to register for 10 years have a less serious offense than those who have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.

Now, though, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2013 (SORNA 2013) splits eligible sex crimes into three tiers – Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. Each of these tiers come with different requirements.

The Process of Registering as a Sex Offender

People who have been convicted of an eligible sex offense have the duty of registering on Maine's sex offender list. This is an active requirement – forms will not be provided to you and meetings will not be scheduled on your behalf. You have to go out of your way to register. The only thing the court will do is tell you whether you have to register as a sex offender and for how long.

The Initial Registration Process

After being released from jail or put on probation, the court, jail, or mental health institute will tell you about the sex offender registration process. The initial registration is the most intensive one. You'll have to provide:

  • Your name
  • Any aliases you use
  • Your date of birth
  • Identifying characteristics like sex, race, height, weight, eye color, and hair color
  • A recent photograph
  • Fingerprints, if they were not already taken during the court process
  • Addresses for where you are going to live, work, and/or go to school
  • Details about any mental health treatment you went through as part of your conviction
  • Details about your conviction.

This information goes to the State Bureau of Identification and the local police department in the town where you are going to live. If you work or go to school in another town, you will have 24 hours to reach out to that police department and notify it of your intentions.

Required Subsequent Updates for Sex Offender Registration in Maine

You are legally required to update the information on your sex offender registration. If you move, change jobs, or leave or change schools, you have 24 hours to reach out to the appropriate police department. Additionally, you will have three days to notify the State Bureau of Identification of these changes.

If you move, work, or go to school out of state, you still have to notify the Maine State Bureau of Identification. The Bureau will then forward the information on to the local law enforcement agency at your destination. At that point, your new state's sex offender registration requirements will apply.

Maine's Sex Offender Registration Verification Process

The State Bureau of Identification has a verification process for all currently-registered sex offenders to ensure their information is current and up to date. The timing of this process depends on the severity of the conviction and which tier you fall under:

  • Tier I registrants have to verify their information every year for 10 years;
  • Tier II registrants have to verify every six months for 25 years; and
  • Tier III registrants have to verify every three months for the rest of their life

Ten days before the verification date, the Bureau of Identification sends a verification form to the currently-listed address. The post office cannot forward this form. You then have five days from receiving the form to fill it out and bring it, along with a new photo, to the local police station.

Penalties for Not Registering as a Sex Offender in Maine

If you are required to register as a sex offender or verify your registration but don't do it and don't have just cause for the oversight, there are serious legal consequences depending on any prior offenses. The below table outlines the potential consequences.

 

Crime Class

Potential Jail or Prison Sentence

Potential Fines

First Registration Failure

Class D misdemeanor

Up to 364 days

Up to $2,000

Second Registration Failure

Class C felony

Up to 5 years

Up to $5,000

Third Registration Failure

Class B felony

Up to 10 years

Up to $20,000

WTB Law: Sex Crime Defense in Portland, Maine

The criminal defense lawyers at WTB Law help people accused of a sex crime defend their rights and their future. One of the most important parts of this defense is minimizing the time you spend on a sex offender registry, which can make your life difficult in a number of ways.

Call the Portland defense attorneys at WTB Law at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online if you have been accused of a sex crime in Portland, Saco, Biddeford, or surrounding areas, or if you have questions about registering as a sex offender.

Contact Us Today

What distinguishes our Firm from the numerous law firms throughout the state is that we genuinely care about the well-being of our clients. The staff and attorneys of WTB LAW ensure that every client receives hands-on and personalized attention throughout the life of their case.

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