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Court Reverses Conviction in Sex Offender Registry Case

March 21, 2017

In Jones v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction for failing to register as a sex offender, finding that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.

O.C.G.A. § 42-1-12 (f)(4) requires each person on the sex offender registry to annually renew by reporting in person to the sheriff’s office where the offender resides or sleeps within 72 hours prior to the offender’s birthday to be photographed and fingerprinted.

The evidence showed that the defendant’s birthday was on September 26, 2015. On September 18th, the defendant signed a lease for a new residence in a different county from where he was registered and began to move there on the 23rd. The defendant began sleeping in the new residence on the 23rd but waited until the 26th, his birthday, to move his heavier items with assistance.

On the 25th, the defendant reported to the sheriff’s office in the county of his new residence. The officer responsible for registration was on vacation at the time and the necessary equipment was locked in her office. The defendant returned on the 30th, which was when the officer returned to work, and completed his registration.

The defendant did not report his move to the county in which he used to live, nor did he renew his registration there. Thus, their records showed the defendant as failing to renew. The officers of that county did not confirm the defendant’s residence before issuing an arrest warrant and taking him into custody.

The Court of Appeals found that the evidence was insufficient to support the defendant’s conviction because the State provided no evidence that the defendant still resided in the county and because the only evidence at trial showed that the defendant had moved away from that county prior to his birthday. As a result, the Court reversed the defendant’s conviction for violating the terms of the sex offender registry.

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