Copyright (c) 2002 Western New England Law Review Association, Inc.
Western New England Law Review
ARTICLE: A PRACTICAL OVERVIEW OF MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAWS CHAPTER 123A: CARE, TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION OF SEXUALLY DANGEROUS PERSONS
24 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 1
John F. Kavanagh, Jr. and Matthew C. Welnicki*
At times, concepts of criminal law spill over into its civil counterpart, thereby affecting the liberty interests of one of the parties involved in a civil proceeding. 1 There is no clearer example of this merger of criminal and civil law than under chapter 123A of the Massachusetts General Laws ("chapter 123A"). 2 Under this statute, a civil process can become the vehicle for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ("Commonwealth") to indefinitely commit a person who is found by a jury or a court to be a sexually dangerous person. 3 Such a commitment has the potential to restrain a person's freedom, to force him or her to undergo treatment to correct the alleged disorder, and create a social stigma that can last throughout a person's lifetime. 4
The current version of chapter 123A may have serious consequences for persons subjected to its provisions. Because it is relatively new, the appellate courts have only begun to give the law ample legal analysis. Moreover, the statute contains numerous convoluted procedural requirements and time restraints. 5 It follows, therefore, that the statute deserves a great deal of scrutiny and careful review by any counsel, court, or defendant involved in chapter 123A proceedings. 6 This is also an area of law that will undoubtedly evolve as the courts and legislature monitor the statute's shortcomings as well as its successes. 7
The purpose of this article is threefold. First, it is designed to provide a brief history of chapter 123A of the Massachusetts General ...
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