AN ACT PROVIDING ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE, RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT AND STALKING.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 9 the following chapter:-
CHAPTER 9A. ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM.
Section 1. For the purposes of this chapter the following words shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-
"Abuse", as provided in section 1 of chapter 209A.
"Address", a residential street, school or work address of an individual, as specified on the application to be a program participant under this chapter.
"Program participant", a person certified by the state secretary to participate in the program.
"Application assistant", an employee of a state or local agency, or of a nonprofit program that provides counseling, referral, shelter or other specialized service to victims of domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault, or stalking and who has been designated by the respective agency, and trained, accepted and registered by the state secretary to assist individuals in the completion of program participation applications.
"Secretary", the state secretary.
"Sexual assault", as provided in sections 13B, 13F, 13H, 24 and 24B of chapter 265 and sections 4A, 17, 29A, 29B and 35A of chapter 272.
"Stalking", as provided in section 43 of chapter 265.
Section 2. There is hereby established an address confidentiality program to be administered by the secretary under the following application and certification procedures:
(1) Upon recommendation of an application assistant, an adult person, a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor, or a guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person may apply to the secretary to have an address designated by the secretary serve as the person's address or the address of the minor or incapacitated person.
(2) The secretary shall approve an application only if it is filed with the office of the secretary in the manner established by regulation, and on a form prescribed by the secretary. A completed application shall contain:
(i) the application preparation date, the applicant's signature and the signature and registration number of the application assistant who assisted the applicant in applying to be a program participant;
(ii) a designation of the secretary as agent for purposes of service of process and for receipt of first-class mail;
(iii) the mailing address where the applicant may be contacted by the secretary, or his designee, and the telephone number or numbers where the applicant may be called by the secretary or his designee; and,
(iv) one or more addresses that the applicant requests not be disclosed for the reason that disclosure will jeopardize the applicant's safety or increase the risk of violence to the applicant or members of the applicant's household.
(3) Upon receipt of a properly completed application, the secretary shall certify the applicant as a program participant. An applicant shall be certified for four years following the date of filing unless the certification is withdrawn or invalidated before that date.
(4) The secretary shall forward all first class mail to the appropriate program participants.
(5) A person who knowingly provides false or incorrect information in an application or who knowingly falsely attests that disclosure of the applicant's address threatens the safety of the applicant or the applicant's children or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00 or by imprisonment for not more than six months in a house of correction and by cancellation of program certification.
Section 3. Certification for the program may be canceled if one or more of the following conditions applies:
(1) If the program participant obtains a name change, the participant loses certification as a program participant. A participant who has obtained a legal name change may apply to the secretary for recertification in the program if documentation of the legal name change is provided.
(2) If there is a change in the residential street address from the one listed on the application, unless the program participant provides the secretary with notice of the change in such manner as the secretary shall provide by regulation.
(3) Pursuant to paragraph (5) of section 2, the secretary shall cancel certification of a program participant who knowingly provides false information.
Section 4. Upon demonstration by a program participant of his certification in the program, state and local agencies shall accept the address designated by the secretary as a program participant's substitute address when creating a new public record unless the secretary has determined that:
(1) The agency has a bona fide statutory or administrative requirement for the use of the participant's actual residential address, such that it is unable to fulfill its statutory duties and obligations without such residential address; and
(2) The participant's actual residential address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes.
Section 5. The secretary shall not make a program participant's address, other than the address designated by the secretary, available for inspection or copying, except under the following circumstances:
(1) If requested of the secretary by the chief commanding officer of a law enforcement agency or his designee in the manner provided for by regulation.
(2) Upon request to the secretary by a commissioner of a state agency, or his specific designee, in the manner provided for by regulation and upon a showing of a bona fide statutory or administrative requirement for the use of the participant's actual residential address, such that it is unable to fulfill its statutory duties and obligations without such residential address.
(3) To a person identified in a court order, upon the secretary's receipt of that court order which specifically orders the disclosure of a particular program participant's address and the reasons stated therefor.
(4) If certification has been canceled due to provision of false or incorrect information in an application or knowingly falsely attesting that disclosure of the applicant's address threatens the safety of the applicant or the applicants children or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, as provided for in paragraph (5) of section 2.
Section 6. The program participant's application and supporting materials shall not be a public record and shall be exempt from the mandatory disclosure requirements of clause Twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4 and section 10 of chapter 66.
Section 7. The secretary shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter and in doing so may consult with the secretary of health and human services and Jane Doe Inc., Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.