The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court says that people convicted of sexual crimes before 2006 do not have to wear GPS devices if they violate parole or probation. The decision split the court 4-3. The majority, however, said that the law cannot be applied retroactively.
The case involves a Bristol County sex offender who was convicted in 1997. Russell M. Cory pled guilty to indecent assault and battery on a child. He served time in prison for several years and was ordered to serve 25 years probation.
Cory left prison in May 2006. He did not take part in mandatory counseling sessions or treatment. Soon after the 2006 law went into effect, Cory was ordered to wear a GPS for violating his probation. Cory, a Level 3 sex offender, is back in jail.
Cory found that using the GPS device, which a sex offender must wear at all times, was a physical and emotional burden. Today, the Supreme Judicial Court said that forcing someone convicted of a sex crime before 2006 to use a GPS device is an unconstitutional burden on his or her liberty and that providing Cory with his constitutional protections against government intrusion takes precedence over the concern regarding public safety.
The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights bans retroactive punishments. This means that only sex offenders convicted of committing crimes that occurred after December 2006 will have to wear the GPS bracelet when on probation.
The Massachusetts Parole Board reports that there are 82 sex offenders on parole that have to use GPS devices. The board will now determine if any of these people are affected by the SJC’s ruling.
GPS Monitoring Devices for Sexual Offenders
The GPS bracelets transmits signals that reveal a sex offender’s location. This device allows law enforcement officers to know when a sex offender has entered an area where he or she is not allowed.
In May, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that defendants charged with Massachusetts sexual crimes but have yet to be convicted do not have to wear GPS devices.
Even if you have been arrested, charged with, or convicted for a sexual crime, you are entitled to certain legal and civil protections under state and federal law. An experienced Boston criminal law firm can make sure that your rights are protected and provide you with a solid and effective defense.
A split SJC says 2006 law violates rights of some sex offenders, Boston.com, August 18, 2009
SJC decision allows thousands of sex offenders to wander freely, LowellSun.com, August 18, 2009
Sex offender can’t be required to wear GPS device, rules Massachusetts’ highest court, Lawyers USA/All Business, May 11, 2009