Over the years, the sex offender registry in Georgia has become one of the harshest and most restrictive in the country. As a result of a series of controversial legislative enactments, there are more than 20,000 Georgia citizens currently on the registry.
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Not only does the sex offender registry report where certain offenders reside, it significantly restricts where these people can live and work. For many, it becomes nearly impossible for them to maintain a stable residence or earn a sufficient living. For some, the sex offender registry is worse than prison. As a dedicated Georgia sex offense lawyer, our firm will work tirelessly for our clients to ensure they do not have to endure the severe consequences that come along with having to register as a sex offender.
This is because the best way to avoid having to register as a sex offender is to win the case. Below is a summary of the key components of the registration statute, the residency and employment restrictions for those subject to the registry, as well as the procedure for petitioning to be removed from the registry.
Defendants must register if they have been convicted of a crime against a minor or a dangerous sexual offense. Misdemeanor convictions and offenses adjudicated in juvenile court are exempted from the registration statutes.
For convictions occurring on or before June 30, 2001, the person must register if the conviction was for one of the following offenses:
For convictions occurring after June 30, 2001, an offense against a minor also includes:
If convicted on or before June 30, 2006, the person would have to register if the conviction was for one of the following:
If convicted after June 30, 2006, a dangerous sexual offense also includes:
As noted above, if the person has been convicted of a misdemeanor or is adjudicated in juvenile court, the offense shall not be considered a criminal offense against a minor or a dangerous sexual offense.
Also, if the person was sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act (which is only available for certain sexual offenses), the person is only subject to the registration requirements while he or she is under sentence. Once the person has completed the sentence and been granted a first offender discharge, he or she is no longer subject to the registry.
Following a conviction for a sexual offense, the person must register with the Sheriff of his or her county of residence within 72 hours of release from prison, or placement on parole, probation, or supervised release. Thereafter, the person will need to renew the registration information each year no more than 72 hours prior to his or her birthday.
In Georgia, a person’s registration information includes a photograph, fingerprints, address, date of birth, place of work, and vehicle registration.
The Sexual Offender Registration Review Board determines the risk assessment classification of each person who is required to register in Georgia. Each person will be assigned to one of the follow levels:
Any person required to register for an offense committed after July 1, 2008, is prohibited from residing or working in places that are within close proximity to child care facilities, churches, schools, or areas where minors congregate. The distance is measured from the outer boundary of the property on which the individual resides or works to the outer boundary of the child care facility, church, school, or area where minors congregate.
No person subject to the registry shall reside within 1,000 feet of any child care facility, church, school, or area where minors congregate.
No person subject to the registry shall be employed by or volunteer at a child care facility, church, or school, nor be employed by or volunteer at any business or entity that is within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, school, or church.
Additionally, no person who had been designated a sexually dangerous predator shall work or volunteer for a business or entity located within 1,000 feet of an area where minors congregate (which include all public and private parks and recreation facilities, playgrounds, skating rinks, neighborhood centers, gymnasiums, school bus stops, public libraries, and public and community swimming pools).
A person will be eligible to petition the court to be removed from the registry in one of the following circumstances:
If the individual has completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the offense and is confined to a hospice, elderly care, or nursing facility, is totally and permanently disabled, or is otherwise seriously incapacitated due to injury.
When registration was for a crime that was later determined to be a misdemeanor (after July 1, 2006), a person may be removed from the registry if he or she meets the following criteria:
When the conviction that required registration was for false imprisonment or kidnapping of a minor without any related sexual offense.
If the person has completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation and either: 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentence, or the person is classified as a Level I risk offender. Additionally, the individual must meet the following criteria:
A petition for removal from the registry is filed in the superior court of the county where the conviction was entered. If the conviction is from another state, the person shall file the petition in their county of residence.
At a hearing, the court may hear evidence from the parties and it is the petitioner who has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she “does not pose a substantial risk of perpetrating any future dangerous sexual offense…”