GEORGIA SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION LAWS

Posted by Sean Black | Oct 02, 2012 | 27 Comments

On May 20, 2010, Governor Perdue signed into law House Bill 571.  It made important changes to Georgia’s sex offender registry laws.  Because I believe that it is important for people effected by this legislation to know about it, I have put together a summary.  You should check with your county sheriff and/or your probation or parole officer before changing your behavior.The clear purpose of the law seems to be to reduce the number of registrants to those who likely pose some risk to the community.

Employment and Residence Restrictions Were Reduced

The restrictions that apply to a person is now based on the restrictions which were in place in the law at the time of the offense conduct. If the offense conduct occurred prior to June 4, 2003, the employment and residence restrictions will not apply to the registrant.  O.C.G.A. §§ 42-1-15, 42-1-16, 42-1-17.If the offense conduct occurred between June 4, 2003 and June 30, 2006, there are restrictions on the location of the registrant’s residence but not on the registrant’s place of employment.  The residence cannot be within 1000 feet of any child care facility, school, public park, private park, recreation facility, playground, skating rink, neighborhood center, gymnasium or similar facilities providing programs or services directed toward persons under age 18.  If the offense conduct occurred after June 30, 2006 and on or before June 30, 2008, the registrant has restrictions on place of residence and place of employment.  The residence cannot be within 1000 feet of any child care facility, church, school, public park, private park, recreation facility, playground, skating rink, neighborhood center, gymnasium, school bus stop, or public or community swimming pool.  The place of employment cannot be employed by any child care facility, schoo or church or by or at any business or entity located within 1000 feet of a child care facility, school, or church.If the offense conduct occurred after June 30, 2008, then there are restrictions on place of residence and employment.The residence cannot be within 1000 feet of a child care facility, church, school, public park, private park, recreation facility, playground, skating rink, neighborhood center, gymnasium, school bus stop, public library, or public or community swimming pool.  The registrant cannot be employed by or volunteer at any child care facility, school or church, or by or at any business entity located within 1000 feet of a child care facility, school or church.With regard to registrants whose offense conduct occurred after June 30, 2006, there is ongoing litigation about whether the school bus stop provision can be enforced.  Most counties do not have designated bus stops and those that do are not enforcing the bus stop provision while the litigation is pending.If a registrant has established residence or employment and a facility such as a child care facility, church or school is established or moves within 1000 feet of the registrants residence or employment location, there is a procedure by which the registrant can petition to establish the right to remain at the residence or employment under certain circumstances.It should be noted that the rules regarding church have been modified.  Registrants who are barred from volunteering at a church can still perform a number of roles in a church.  Volunteering at a church has now been defined to mean engaging in an activity which would ordinarily be employed for compensation which involves in working with, assisting or being engaged in activities with minors.  It does not include participation in activities for persons 18 years of age or older only, participating in worship services, or engaging in religious activities or activities at a place of worship which do not involve supervising, teaching, directing or otherwise participating with minors who are not supervised by an adult who is not a registrant.The rules regarding homeless registrants have also changed.  A registrant who is or becomes homeless must register in person with the sheriff of the county in which he is sleeping within 72 hours of that status change, provide information on the location where he or she sleeps, maintain the required registration information for each sheriff of a county where he or she sleeps, report his or her registration within 72 hours of changing sleeping locations, and annually renew his registration within 72 hours prior to his or her birthday each year.  Registrants are no longer required to provide their email addresses, usernames and user passwords to law enforcement as part of the registration process.

Some Registrants May Be Eligible to be Removed from the Registry

The prior law provided that a person on the sex offender registry could petition to be removed from the registry.  That process could only be initiated once ten years had elapsed from the completion of the person’s sentence.

The completion of the sentence would be the later of the person’s release from prison, parole, supervised release or probation.The new law will allow for a petition to be made to be relieved of the employment and residence restrictions and from the registration requirement.   This can often be done prior to the previous ten year requirement. Risk Classification If the person is classified by the Sex Offender Registration Review Board as a level I risk assessment classification, then they may file a petition immediately, if the registrant has completed all prison, parole, supervised release and probation for the offense which required registration. The registrant must also meet the following criteria: a. No prior offense which would be a sex offense under Georgia law or similar state or federal law; b. No use of a weapon during the offense; c. No relevant similar transaction; d. Victim did not suffer any intentional physical harm; e. The victim was not transported during the offense; and  f. The victim was not physically restrained during the commission of the offense.

Other Risk Classifications

If the person is classified by the Sex Offender Registration Review Board as a level II risk assessment classification or as a sexual predator, the person is not eligible to file a petition until ten years after the person has completed all  prison, parole, supervised release and probation for the offense which required registration.

Unclassified Registrants

If the person is classified by the Sex Offender Registration Review Board, a petition may be filed, but the court will stay the proceeding and direct the Board to make a classification in the person’s case.  The resulting classification would determine eligibility for relief.

Disabled Persons

Disabled or incapacitated persons may be eligible to be removed from the registry under the following circumstances.  The registrant must have completed all prison, parole, supervised release and probation for the offense which required registration and: (a) is confined to a hospice facility, skilled nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly or             nursing home;  (b) is totally and permanently disabled; or  (c) is otherwise seriously physically incapacitated due to illness or injury.

Level of Offense Change

If the registrant was convicted of an offense which was a felony on or before June 30, 2006, but is now a misdemeanor, the registrant can petition for removal from the registry.  This most typically involves offenders who were close in age to their victims. One example is that some registrants were convicted of sodomy prior to July 1, 2006, where the victim was at least 13 years old but less than 16 years old and the registrant was 18 years old or younger at the time of the offense.  These persons would now be eligible to seek removal from the registry.Another example is that some registrants who were convicted of statutory rape prior to July 1, 2006, where the victim was at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old and the registrant was 18 years old or younger at the time of the offense, and no more than four years older than the victim at that time.  These persons could now petition for removal from the registry.

Non-Sexual Kidnapping or False Imprisonment of a Minor

If the registrant was subject to registration because of a kidnaping or false imprisonment charge where there was no sexual offense against a minor, the registrant may be eligible to petition for relief from the registry requirements.

Procedure for Petition for Removal

If a registrant was convicted in Georgia, then the petition would be filed in Superior Court in the county where the conviction occurred.  If the conviction was from another state, the petition can be filed in the county of residence of the registrant. The court can order the person removed from the registry and can release the person from some or all of the employment or residence restrictions that may apply to the registrant.If a person petitions for relief and the petition is denied, a new petition cannot be filed for two years from the order of denial.The court can grant the petition if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person does not pose a substantial risk of perpetrating any future dangerous sexual offense. In preparing such a petition and readying the case for presentation at a hearing, it will be important to document the facts of the underlying offense, including getting copies of warrants, incident reports, accusations, indictments, and sentencing documents.  It is also necessary to document all treatment programs completed by the registrant either in jail or prison or while on parole or probation or otherwise.  Any psychological or psychosexual evaluations will need to be obtained.  If there are none, depending on the facts of the case, such an evaluation may be recommended.  The registrant’s record while on parole or probation is important to demonstrate a lack of serious violations.  Finally, the facts and dispositions of any new offenses or violations must be examined.

Modification of Probation Conditions

Registrants who are still actively serving their probation sentences continue to be able to seek modifications of the conditions of probation.  Good cause must be shown to the court for such modifications.  In the past, my office has sought modifications to allow probation under sex offender conditions to have pictures of their children and grandchildren and to have contact with such relatives.  Obviously, the court must be convinced that such changes will not cause a risk of harm to others or a risk of allowing for a new offense to occur.

Our Office

Attorney Sean A. Black has been in practice since 1992.  During that time, he has handled numerous criminal and civil matters.  He has handled many cases involving the sex offender laws at the trial court level and on appeal as well as habeas corpus cases.   To seek help with a case, call us at 866-234-4481 or email me at seanblack@blacklawoffices.com.  Black Law Offices, LLC, is located at 141 West Savannah Street, Suite B, Toccoa, Georgia..

About the Author

Sean Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

Comments

Veronica Reply

Posted Dec 17, 2013 at 21:43:45

Sean, thank you for a concise and clear explanation on Georgia’s Sex Registration laws. I am an attorney who has been researching this issue and your web page has the best explanation by far of all the other practioners websites I have perused. Kudos. Based on your writing here, I imagine that you are a fine advocate whose clients are fortunate to have you on their side. I have two questions for you: (1) do you know what risk level Distribution of Child Pornography falls under in Georgia? If so, what is it or what is the actuarial system they use to determine risk level? (2) if someone convicted of Distribution of Child Pornography after June 30, 2008 is taken off the registry, do the 1,000 feet restrictions on residence and employment still apply?

Sean Black Reply

Posted Dec 27, 2013 at 14:17:23

The information I have been given about the classification system indicates that it is more related to an offender based evaluation than an offense based evaluation although the severity of the offense can have an effect, particularly if it is a violent or stranger-type crime.

To obtain removal from the registry, a person must have completed the relevant sentence including parole or probation. At that point, persons on the registry may be subject to certain employment and residence restrictions based upon their conviction date. Removal from the registry removes these restrictions. However, if the person is serving probation or parole for a different offense, it may be that some of these restrictions may be imposed as conditions for the new probation or parole. I have seen the parole board, in particular, impose such conditions for an unrelated offense where the criminal history includes a registry offense.

Lynn Reply

Posted Oct 29, 2014 at 17:45:31

When a person as completed his / her 10 year probation are they able to travel outof the state without special premission for a week vacation with his / her spouse.

Walter West Reply

Posted Jun 25, 2015 at 19:04:09

Mr. Black. My offense occurred in 1988 and I was adjudicated in 1994, in a high-profile case. I was sentenced to 20 years to serve and served the entire sentence. I then discovered I had 20 years on probation to serve. I interstate compacted to Florida, as both my parents died while I was incarcerated and our house in McDonough was foreclosed upon. Is there any way to have my probation reduced or negated. (DOC had no listing of probation for me and neither did probation at the time of release). I have been on probation for a couple of years, am disabled (on disability) and have limited mobility. I understand that the SO review board put me under predator status in my absence. Any suggestions? Advice? My case ended up in Clayton County.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Jun 30, 2015 at 12:08:21

Like most questions addressed to lawyers, this is one where the answer comes down to the documents. What does the sentence state? Beyond that, your classification level will make a court reluctant to release you from supervision.

Jason Reply

Posted Jul 14, 2015 at 14:15:43

3rd degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Is that a slam dunk for level 1 classification with no other sex offenders. 6 months each count and all time donebin jail with no parole or probation. Reason I ask is sex offender deputy scared me out of getting classified cause said someone had 12 counts and got predator status.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Jul 14, 2015 at 15:02:07

The classification system can be intimidating. Parole or probation violations, prison or jail infractions, disregard of counseling/treatment requirements, or other misconduct is required to escalate the classification level. Most sex offenders who are charged and convicted are at very low risk to re-offend. The SORRB looks for other risk factors which would increase that risk. If you don’t have the other risk factors, I would expect you to be classified as Level 1. But, without knowing all of the details of your case and your progress since conviction, it is only a guess.

Denise Reply

Posted Aug 06, 2015 at 23:54:21

On another note, a registered sex offender with 2 prison stints of a violent, sexual nature has moved in across the street from our neighborhood elementary school. There’s nothing we can do since the crimes were comitted prior to 2003 (though he was in prison for 20 years at that time). Do you have any advice for parents like me?

Sean Black Reply

Posted Aug 07, 2015 at 14:11:36

There is nothing that will likely reassure you about this situation.

Convicted sex offenders are statistically less likely to commit a new sexual offense. Without knowing the facts of his conviction offenses, it is difficult to say whether there is a substantial risk to children. On the other hand, forewarned is forearmed. You know that this person may be a risk or danger, that is true whether he lives across the street, down the block, or across town. That is not true of many other people you and your children may come in contact with. When sexual crimes against children occur, it can come as a complete surprise by people you never suspected.

Your best bet is to have upfront conversations with your children about safety, dealings with other people and being honest with parents about things that happen in their lives.

The registry and residence restrictions can just give people a chance to sweep things under the rug and pretend that bad things don’t happen.

qtjBama Reply

Posted Oct 15, 2015 at 17:59:23

Someone very close to me, a Level I SO in GA, has just been given a summons by his PO to appear before his sentencing judge – i.e., “Hearing for Good Cause,” with a two week notice. His documentation – psychosexual evaluation, PPG, polygraphs (never failed) – are all pristine and he would be given very good feedback or neutral reviews from his POs. He has a stack of recommendation letters from people in the community. He served 2, and is now 3 years into 12 years probation. Orig Offense in 2007. He is a performer and comes to work in my state (AL), for which he has always needed a travel permit. (he never stays more than 3 days).

TWO GROUPS OF QUESTIONS:
Firstly, if he goes on non-report – the purpose of this hearing, which his PO instigated – would he still need a travel permit? If he does not need one in GA, would he still need one in AL?
Secondly, could he file for removal from the SO Registry at the same hearing?

He fits all of these criteria (from above): The registrant must also meet the following criteria: a. No prior offense which would be a sex offense under Georgia law or similar state or federal law; b. No use of a weapon during the offense; c. No relevant similar transaction; d. Victim did not suffer any intentional physical harm; e. The victim was not transported during the offense; and f. The victim was not physically restrained during the commission of the offense.

qtjBama Reply

Posted Oct 15, 2015 at 18:12:01

BTW, the original offense was “Luring a minor”… case of entrapment (per court transcript, he was in an Adult chat room, and the “woman” he was talking to suddenly announced she was 14 – no meeting, no etc. The entrapping officer refused to show photo used to lure “we have many; I don’t know which one he looked at”). The DA was sure he would get probation. My friend was eager and prepared to defend himself; his inexperienced attorney and even the DA were sure he’d get just probation…but after the DA rested, at noon, before defending himself, during the lunch break behind the scenes sitting with DA and his own attorney, Judge gave him “take your chances, and if you are given a guilty verdict, I’ll put you in prison for 60 years. Or plead guilty and take 2.” He has no priors aside from traffic violations. 28 yo at the time. He was given 45 minutes to make a decision. He took 2 years, of course, rather than “life.” All pychosocial evidence shows he is attracted to adult women. Clear record.) The attorney he consulted with (he’s interviewing now), looking at his documentation, says his case is extremely unusual. I’m told that there really aren’t any enforceable entrapment laws in GA.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Oct 15, 2015 at 18:31:48

Being made non-reporting does not terminate the sentence. Until the sentence is complete, either through running its course or early termination, he does not have standing to request removal from the registry. Likewise, until the sentence is complete, he will continue to need a travel permit to leave the state of Georgia. He will also have to continue to notify probation if his address changes and update registry information as required by law.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Oct 15, 2015 at 18:33:38

I really can’t assess his prior conviction without seeing the court record and transcripts. You do not give any information as to when his conviction occurred to evaluate whether a challenge to the conviction would be timely.

Carolyn Gill Reply

Posted Dec 04, 2015 at 04:08:32

Mr. Black I searching for knowledge on the 1000 ft. laws for a registered offender. See my fiancé served 10 years in prison for I sex crime against me when I was 20 years old. He was released July 14, 2014, we reunited in Jan, 2015 and talked about what happened in the past and started a new relationship with each other. The small town we live in recently started giving us issues about where we live. When I google the distance from our home to the park which is directly across the street from the middle school it shows we live more than 1000 ft. away but when we spoke with the lady at the sheriff’s office she stated that we are too close because the owner of the park also owns the property across the street from us how does that work. I honestly think she is being untruthful but I have no way to prove it yet. Do u have any advice for us because I have to young kids my only income is child support and I cant afford to move. I’m lost and not sure what to do or where to go from here. I feel there being very unfair to him because it’s not like he’s a child offend nor has he ever been in any trouble before this was his first offense and he served his time.

Kim Robinson Reply

Posted Jan 24, 2016 at 17:24:49

My son is up for parole for child molestation supposedly committed on September 16, 2005. He has been in 10 and a half years. There was no dna evidence and the victim did not testify but he was convicted and got 13 in and seven probation. But I’m confused after reading who must register. Child molestation is not listed within the occurrence dates. Can you clarify this for me?

Sean Black Reply

Posted Jan 25, 2016 at 13:08:08

There are two classes of offenses which trigger registration: “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor” and “dangerous sexual offense.” Over time, the definition of each has changed. Because these classifications are not applied retroactively, this causes each of these terms to have different definitions depending upon the date of the conviction.

Your comment does not specify the date of conviction. Since the offense date is September 16, 2005, I assume that the conviction date is after that within a couple of years.

A child molestation offense where the conviction occurred after June 30, 2001, would be considered to be a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor because it would be “criminal sexual conduct toward a minor.” OCGA 42-1-12 (a)(9)(B)(iii). It could also be regarded as “any conduct which, by its nature, is a sexual offense against a victim who is a minor.” OCGA 42-1-12(a)(9)(B)(xi).

If the conviction occurred prior to July 1, 2006, it would not be regarded as a dangerous sexual offense, unless you omitted a description that it was “aggravated child molestation.” If the conviction was on or after July 1, 2006, it would be regarded as a dangerous sexual offense. OCGA 42-1-12(a)(10)(B)(viii).

Meeting either definition triggers registration for most people residing in or moving into Georgia.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Jan 25, 2016 at 13:13:02

Where distances are being measured for sex offender registrants subject to residence or work restrictions, the distances are measured between the two closest boundary points of the two properties. It is not measured door-to-door or entrance-to-entrance.

There is not a lot of direction in the statute or case law for the situation you describe where the owner of a property that would trigger restrictions also owns property abutting the restricted property where the abutting property is not dedicated to a restricted usage.

Paul Baccus Reply

Posted Feb 01, 2016 at 00:14:05

I was convicted on 3-31-1997 of sexual assault of a child while in a position of trust. A felony by Colorado law.Currently I live in South Carolina and am considering moving to Georgia. How would I be classified under Georgia law? Are there any restrictions as to where I could live or work? Would I be able to petition the court to be removed from the registry list and how long after residency if possible? Thank you

Sean Black Reply

Posted Feb 02, 2016 at 16:56:37

If a person moving into the state of Georgia is required to register in the originating state, then they are required to register in Georgia. Georgia will not conduct any initial classification upon registration. A person who is on the registry can petition for removal from the registry. If unclassified, as you would be at that stage, the court would order a classification. If the person is classified as a Level I, low risk, then the petition can proceed immediately, with no further waiting period. If the person is a Level II, moderate risk, then the petition can only proceed if it has been more than ten years from the completion of the sentence.

g.wilson Reply

Posted Feb 14, 2016 at 03:21:23

I’m on probation for false imprisonment which occurred in 2013 the incident occurred with my 12 year old brother and I was 17 at the time. When I took my plea for 10 years probation they never told me anything about having to register,nor was anything about registering for sex offender on therecord. Last week when I reported to probation they told me I had to register which I did. I need this off of me what can I do? Please help me I’m not didn’t commit a sex crime I need to come off.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Feb 15, 2016 at 14:18:25

It is certainly something that your lawyer, at least, should have discussed with you.

False imprisonment of a minor where the offender is not a parent is specifically set out as a “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor.” OCGA 42-1-12(a)(9)(B).

Any offense which is a “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor” requires registration as a sex offender, even where there is no sexual component to the crime charged or the underlying facts.

Registration requirements are collateral consequences of a conviction. The judge is not required to cover all collateral consequences of a conviction on the record. I really think that your lawyer should have informed you of that type of collateral consequence.

There are two ways to get you off the sex offender registry: (1) complete your sentence and successfully petition for removal (but be on the registry for ten years) or (2) successfully challenge the entry of your plea and have the sentence set aside. However, that places you in a position where the prosecution against you re-starts.

shawana Reply

Posted Apr 06, 2016 at 20:14:29

Good afternoon Mr. Black My husband was convicted in 1999 for statutory rape. At the time the victim and her family tried to drop the charger because she you lady admitted that it was consensual and she lied about he age but the state decided to keep the case and charge him anyway. The young lady was 12 and my husband was 16. We have been living in texas for a while and want to know what steps can be taken to have him deregistered of removed for the list?

Edward Davis Reply

Posted Apr 20, 2016 at 02:32:28

Sean black…i was convicted by jury on june 6,1987 for child molestation..no harm..no restraints..i allegedly exposed myself..when she went back and said i didn’t..i completed my sentence may 1997..no other charges like this…can i get off registry?never been leveled

marie howard Reply

Posted Apr 20, 2016 at 22:15:37

I have a question. If a person has 20 years for statutory rape (consensual) and serves 5 years prison and get released to serve the remaining time on papers can that person be eligible for early release of probation? This person is classified as level 1. No other convictions and no violations. Has completed all classes. Is it possible to ask for a sentence reduction or early removal?

Sean Black Reply

Posted Apr 25, 2016 at 13:56:36

The probation portion of a sentence is subject to modification throughout the sentence by the sentencing court. Modification can be of the conditions to be supervised and of the length of the sentence. Sex offenses can experience significant resistance from the courts in termination requests unless it is very clear that the person poses no threat of re-offending.

Sean Black Reply

Posted Apr 25, 2016 at 14:02:46

Anyone on the registry who has completed the sentence and is not classified as a sexual predator may be eligible for removal from the Georgia registry. Unclassified persons need to file a petition for removal in order to be classified. Level I’s can proceed immediately with the petition for removal. Level II’s can only proceed if at least ten years has elapsed since the completion of the sentence (including probation).

Sean Black Reply

Posted Apr 25, 2016 at 14:04:16

If your husband is a resident of Texas, he is not on the Georgia registry. He would need to pursue removal from the Texas registry if that is available.

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