One mistake has the possibility to follow you and harm you for the rest of your life. Maine sex offender registry is publicly available. Sex Offender Registration shares your name, residence, employment and applicable crimes according to Title 34-A MRSA, Chapters 15 and 17. This public registration system can prevent you from making the most of many life opportunities.
Maine’s sex offender registration law is the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2013, or SORNA. A person’s obligation to register as a sex offender is triggered by a conviction for a sex-related crime.
Sex offender status carries intense social stigma. No one wants a sex offender in their neighborhood. That is why it is paramount to hire an experienced Maine sex crimes attorney when facing any sex-related criminal charges. The Nielsen Group has the experience and the understanding to defend you. Our team understands how the prosecutor will build the state’s case and knows how to deconstruct the State’s case piece by piece. Law abiding people can be wrongly accused of a sex offense. I encourage you to contact us for your free legal consultation.
This article will provide you a high-level overview of the Maine Sex Offender Registration Act. It will answer questions such as:
- How do you register as a sex offender?
- How long do you have to be registered as a sex offender?
- Can a sex offender case be expunged?
- Can you be taken off of the sex offender registry?
- How can a Maine Sex Crimes Lawyer help?
If you have any unanswered questions after reviewing this article, a good starting place is to touch base with the Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation.
How do you register as a sex offender?
Under SORNA, you are required to register your name, where you live, and where you go to school. Going “under the radar” while under SORNA is not an option. Anyone looking at the Maine sex offender registry can find you and see that you are a sex offender.
Once registered, you are required to update your SORNA registration information periodically. There are strict deadlines for updating your SORNA registry information. There is no room to be late while registering with SORNA. If you fail to register on time by just a day, you can be charged with Failure to Register under SORNA. This is a new criminal charge with its own separate court dates and potential penalties.
How long do you have to be on the sex offender registry?
How long you have to register as a sex offender is determined by what type of sex crime you were convicted of. SORNA has three tiers of sex crimes that trigger registration as a sex offender:
- Tier 1 Conviction: 10-years registration.
- Tier 2 Conviction: 25-year registration.
- Tier 3 Conviction: lifetime registration.
Criminal Charges Triggering SORNA Registration
Tier 1- 10 year SORNA registration
If convicted of the following sex crimes, you become a registered sex offender for ten (10) years. Most of these offenses are Class D misdemeanors. In addition to SORNA registration, the maximum penalties for these offenses can include up to $2,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days jail time.
Unlawful Sexual Contact
The legal term “sexual contact” describes a range of behaviors intended for sexual gratification. Here, the accused defendant and the victim are not married or in a committed relationship.
When the charge is for Unlawful Sexual Contact 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 255, the victim:
- Does not give consent to the contact.
- Cannot physically resist or is unconscious.
- Is unable to understand that they can say no to the sexual contact, either due to a young age or mental disability.
Tier 1 SORNA qualifying sexual contact occurs within abuse of certain trust relationships, including:
- When there is a significant age difference between the person accused and the victim. The victim was 14 or 15, and the defendant is at least 10 years older than the victim.
- When the person is accused of taking advantage of another person with a mental disability who is unable to understand the nature of the sexual contact.
- When the person accused is a teacher or other person with “instructional, supervisory, or disciplinary authority” and the victim is a student.
- When the person accused is “employed by, owns, or operates” a program or residence funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the other person suffers from an intellectual disability.
- When the person accused is employed as a caregiver for another person of advanced age, physical disability, or mental disease that makes them unable to care for themselves.
Violation of Privacy
Maine Statue for Violation of Privacy 17-A M.R.SA. Section 511 can describe a number of different actions. Violation of Privacy can occur in public or in private. For SORNA, the person is accused of conducting surveillance on another person in a public place with the intent to watch, photograph, or record underneath the other person’s clothing. In other words, being a “peeping Tom” in public can get you registered as a Tier 1 sex offender.
Under SORNA law, Incest 17-A M.S.R.A. Section 556, is having a sexual relationship with another person known to be related “within the second degree of consanguinity.” The first degree of consanguinity includes parents and children. The second degree of consanguinity includes grandparents, siblings, and grandchildren.
Engaging a Prostitute Who is a Minor
Typically, Engaging a Prostitute 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 853 is a Class E misdemeanor. That is when the prostitute is an adult over the age of 18. If a person seeks the services of a teenage prostitute who has not yet reached the age of 18, the charge is a Class D crime and will trigger SORNA registration for the next 10 years.
Tier 2 SORNA Registration
If convicted of a Tier 2 SORNA crime, you become a sex offender for twenty-five (25) years. If convicted of any of the following crimes, you would also become designated as a felon, which carries a separate set of collateral consequences. Most of these offenses are classified as Class C felony crimes. If convicted of a Class C felony, the maximum penalties from the Court would include up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to five (5) years jail time.
Gross Sexual Assault
In Maine, Gross Sexual Assault 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 253 is the criminal charge for rape, which the State takes very seriously. Here, the rape occurs in certain recognized relationships, and there is an abuse of that relationship.
- When the person works for a program or residence funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the other person is a recipient of those services, and:
- The victim has an intellectual disability.
- The victim suffers from a mental disability that is apparent or known by the defendant.
- When the person is a teacher or other person with authority, and the other person is a student. The age of the student is not a factor of the crime.
- When the person works for someone who cannot care for themselves. The caregiver and dependent are not married or committed to one another. The person requiring care:
- Is an older adult.
- Is ill from disease.
- Suffers from a mental defect that is known by the defendant.
Unlawful Sexual Contact
When Unlawful Sexual Contact (17-A M.R.S.A. Section 255) triggers a Tier 2 SORNA registration, the sexual contact is more aggressive, often involving penetration. Here, Unlawful Sexual Contact is a Class C felony and triggers a 25-year SORNA registration. Situations leading to this charge include:
- When the person is a probation officer or other individual with supervisory authority over the other person, who is a probationer, parolee, or on supervised release. The sexual contact includes penetration.
- When the person is a teacher, coach, or other individual with supervisory authority, and the other person is a student. The sexual contact includes penetration.
- When the person is with an organization funded by DHHS, and the other person receives services from that organization. The recipient suffers from a mental disability that is apparent or known by the defendant. The act in question could include penetration but it is not required.
Sexual Misconduct with a Child
Sexual Misconduct with a Child 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 258 is the displaying of sexually explicit materials to a child under the age of 12 with the intent to encourage the other person to engage in a sexual act. The person’s state of mind is a factor, as well as the age of the victim. Conviction will trigger Tier 2 SORNA designation for 25 years.
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Maine Statute 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 282 is aimed at child pornography, which is illegal at every stage, from production, dissemination, and possession. In these cases, there can also be an accompanying charge of forfeiture of the equipment used to facilitate the violations.
Patronizing a Minor Prostitute or Prostitute with Mental Disability
Patronizing a Minor Prostitute or a prostitute with a mental disability 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 855 is a Class C felony charge. If a “John” arranges for the services of a teenage prostitute (or one who has a mental disability), either with the teenage prostitute or the teenage prostitute’s “pimp”, then the “John” is convicted and receives a 25-year SORNA designation.
Tier 3 SORNA Registration
Offenses under Tier 3 are the most severe, and they trigger a lifetime SORNA registration. If convicted of any of these crimes, you would have to register under SORNA for the rest of your life. Tier 3 SORNA crimes are Class A or Class B felonies, which are the most severe classes of crime in Maine. These crimes are characterized by violent acts on top of the sex crime.
Gross Sexual Assault, Unlawful Sexual Contact, or Sexual Exploitation of Minors
If the charge of rape, unlawful sexual contact, or sexual exploitation of minors is classified as a Class B felony or Class A felony, then a lifetime SORNA registration requirement is imposed upon conviction. If convicted of a Class B crime, the courts could impose penalties of up to $20,000.00 in fines and up to ten (10) years jail time. If convicted of a Class A crime, the maximum penalties could include up to $50,000.00 in fines and up to thirty (30) years jail time.
Kidnapping 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 301 occurs when a person restrains another person’s freedom, such as confining another person or transporting them to another place against their will. A Tier 3 SORNA offense involves Kidnapping with the intent to inflict injury and/or sexual assault on the other person. Kidnapping is a Class A felony.
Aggravated Sex Trafficking
For Tier 3 SORNA status to occur with a conviction for Aggravated Sex Trafficking 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 852, the person promotes prostitution by compelling the prostitutes into service or keeping them in prostitution. The aggravating factors include the prostitution of minors under the age of 18, or promoting prostitution of those suffering from a mental disability that makes them unable to understand the conduct involved.
The charge of Incest under Tier 3 SORNA is the only charge that triggers a lifetime sex offender registration that is neither a Class A felony or Class B felony. Here, Incest is charged as a repeat offense with two (2) or more prior convictions, and it is charged as a Class C felony.
Can a sex offender case be expunged?
The answer to the question if a sex offender case in Maine can be expunged or erased from your record after the fact is no. Maine does not expunge criminal convictions. If you are convicted of a sex crime, it is added permanently to your criminal record. While Maine does have gubernatorial pardons, no request for a pardon will be heard if the purpose is to get off of the sex offender registry.
Can you be removed from the sex offender registry?
In Maine, your time on the sex offender registry is determined by statute. If you are designated as a 10-year registrant, then you would be required to register under SORNA for the entire 10 years. As long as you have not accumulated any new sex crimes that could extend your registration under SORNA, then you should not be required to register after your SORNA mandatory period has passed. Before stopping registration, you will want to confirm with the registry that you are no longer required to register with them.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Regardless of whether you are facing a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 SORNA offense, a criminal defense attorney is extremely important. The State of Maine takes sex crimes seriously, and the District Attorneys tend to not dismiss these charges. You should not go it alone at Court. Having a sex crimes attorney advocating for your rights as early as possible is a critical success factor on your case.
The most significant point about sex crimes is that they are fact-dependent. Each case has a unique story. Defending each sex crime case looks different from the next. Some charges are broad in nature, such as Unlawful Sexual Contact. Other charges, such as Engaging a Prostitute, have a narrower focus. As a sex criminal defense attorney in Maine, the goals of defending these cases remain:
- Exercise Damage Control- This is the “defensive” part of legal defense. From the beginning, I make sure clients’ Miranda rights are asserted properly. The client might also limit the number of people that have knowledge about the case. Some clients even shut down all of their social media accounts so that people do not ask them to talk about the case. You would limit talking about the case to your lawyer, which is confidential and privileged.
- Finding Weak Points in the State’s Case- In contrast, this is the “offensive” part of legal defense. Can the State prove all of the elements of the crime as accused? Are there problems with the State’s witnesses, including the victim? Does the victim have any issues for credibility? In my experience, the value of having an aggressive advocate who will not just roll over and recommend pleading guilty cannot be underestimated.
- Evaluate Special Issues- The criminal defense attorney considers any unique problems or concerns that might come up, and address them accordingly. This could mean hiring a private investigator, retaining a mitigation specialist, obtaining a sex offender evaluation, or getting certain confidential documents released for your defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know which avenue to take in your case.
While not a part of the Court process, I find that a good part of my role is to talk with clients facing sex charges about some potentially permanent life changing events. There are very difficult questions that a person facing a sex crime triggering SORNA will have to face, including:
- Will the conviction affect their family, or their ability to see their kids?
- Will the crime make them lose their job? Their professional license?
- Will it be ok to plead guilty to a felony crime if the case resolution avoids a SORNA designation?
- Will it be ok to plead guilty to a different sex offense if the case resolution avoids a SORNA designation?
- How will a SORNA designation affect their privacy? How they live? Where they live?
The Nielsen Group has the tools to know what combination of advocacy and strategy will work best in your case.
For More Information on Maine Sex Offender Registration:
- Sex Crimes in Maine
- Finding a Good Maine Sex Crimes Attorney
- What to do if Falsely Accused of a Sex Offense