Legal Blog

Court of Appeals Reverses Conviction for Failing to Register as Sex Offender

June 13, 2024

The Court held that the 72-hour time period to report changes to the Sheriff is an essential element of the offense and must be proven by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant’s conviction in Buchanan v. State was reversed by the Georgia Court of Appeals as a result of the State’s failure to present sufficient evidence of the time frame during which it was alleged that the defendant failed to update his employment information with the Sheriff’s office.


The defendant had been convicted in 2012 of sexual offenses and was sentenced to prison. Upon his release, he was required to register as a sex offender.

He was released in 2017 and he registered with the Floyd County Sheriff’s office. In February 2023, a deputy with the Sheriff’s office came to the defendant’s residence to confirm that he was complying with the registration requirements. The deputy spoke with the defendant as well as his parents.

The defendant mentioned to the deputy that he “worked part-time for his father.” The deputy noticed that the defendant’s registration forms did not reference this employment information. The deputy then immediately arrested the defendant and charged him with failing to timely update his employment information as required by the statute.

The defendant proceeded to a bench trial where he was convicted. On appeal, he argued that the State failed to prove that he was in violation of the statute since it provides a 72-hour window to report any changes to his employment information.

Sex Offender Registration Requirements

O.C.G.A. § 41-1-12 is the sex offender registration statute. Subsection (f) requires those who are subject to the registry to register within 72 hours of their conviction or their release from prison. The person is required to then renew their registration every year within 72 hours of their birthday.

In the event that their registration information changes (such as their employment), the person must update that information with the sheriff “within 72 hours of any change.”

Sufficiency of the Evidence Analysis

At trial, the State introduced evidence that the defendant merely said he “worked part-time for his father.” The Court of Appeals noted that there was absolutely no evidence establishing when the defendant’s employment with his father began or how frequently he worked with him.

The sheriff’s deputy to whom the defendant made this statement testified at the trial. The prosecutor asked him if the defendant “had ample time to fill out a change [of employment] form [with the Sheriff’s office],” and he responded, “I believe so.”

However, the Court pointed out that there was no evidence that the defendant was in violation of the 72-hour time period to report the change of employment. It held that this time period is an essential element of the offense and therefore it must be proven by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court concluded that since the State failed to prove that 72 hours had elapsed since the defendant began working for his father, his conviction for this offense must be reversed.

Since the conviction was being reversed due to the insufficiency of the evidence, the case cannot be retried.

More Posts in Sex Offender Registry Cases

More Posts