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State court tosses out sex offender's conviction

3-1-2014 Massachusetts:

The state's highest court this week reversed the conviction of a Level 3 sex offender for failing to register as a sex offender after the justices ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove he was living at his aunt's home in Lowell and not in the homeless shelter.

In a decision issued on Thursday, the state Supreme Judicial Court overturned a judge's 2011 ruling that Jose Armando Arce was guilty of failing to register as a sex offender. The judge had sentenced Arce to one year in a house of correction and lifetime community parole.

While the jail sentence may have been completed, the lifetime parole is vacated.

Laurie Myers, of the Chelmsford-based Community Voices advocacy group, said, "It has always been difficult to prove a homeless offender failed to register, but it looks like the SJC made it a little more difficult. Yet another way for sex offenders to manipulate the system."

Arce, 44, who lists his address at 260 Middlesex St., was convicted in 2006 of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He was convicted in 2012 of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older.

He was arrested by Lowell police on July 20, 2010 and charged with failing to notify police of a change of address as required under the sex offender law.

At Arce's jury-waived trial, prosecutors alleged that the defendant, who registered on July 12, 2010, as homeless, failed to notify police that he had begun living in an apartment with his aunt, Alma Carrasquillo, on Wilder Street in Lowell, either as his home or as his secondary residence, and that he knowingly provided false information when he registered as homeless eight days before being arrested.

Arce testified that on July 12, 2010, he was living at the Lowell Transitional Living Center. He explained that he received Social Security disability insurance, and the payment checks were delivered to his aunt's address at 270 Wilder St. at his request. He also explained that his aunt helped him cash his checks and manage the limited funds he received.

"There was scant evidence that on July 12, 2010, he was actually residing on Wilder Street and not homeless," the SJC wrote. And there was "no evidence of how long he had been staying there and, specifically, whether he had begun staying there before July 12, 2010."

Prosecutors could not prove that Arce had been living at the Wilder Street address for four or more days in a month, as required under the law
. ..Source.. by Lisa Redmond

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