By: Larry Kohn, Sex Crimes Attorney Since 1997
Who Must Register As a Sex Offender in Georgia?
Before being released from prison on a probated sentence, or placed on parole, sex offenders must provide the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the local county sheriff’s office where the probationer or parolee will be living. This adds the new county resident and his or her location information to the sex offender registry GA “book” at the county jail.
Once done, he or she is on the GA sex registry for the GBI sex offender list. Plus, the national sex offender registry will have the notification.
Who must registered for the GA sex offender registry list is controlled by OCGA Section 42-1-12(d) relating to persons permitted to leave prison early and includes all sex offenders and certain crimes on the child offender list.
OCGA Section 42-1-12(e) outlines the convicted citizens who must register:
People convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor after July 1, 1996
People convicted of a dangerous sexual offense after July 1, 1996
People convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor and may be released from prison or placed on parole, supervised release, or probation on or after July 1, 1996
Persons who have previously been convicted of a sexually violent offense or dangerous sexual offense and may be released from prison or placed on parole, supervised release, or probation on or after July 1, 1996
Persons who are a resident of Georgia who intends to reside in this state and who is convicted under the laws of another state or the United States, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or in a tribal court of a sexually violent offense, a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor on or after July 1, 1999, or a dangerous sexual offense on or after July 1, 1996.
A nonresident who changes residence from another state or territory of the United States or any other place to Georgia who is required to register as a sexual offender under federal law, military law, tribal law, or the laws of another state or territory, or who has been convicted in this state of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or any dangerous sexual offense.
Does a “Pardon” From the Georgia State Pardons and Parole Mean That a Sex Offender Can Be Removed From GA Sex Offender Registry Search?
An important Georgia Supreme Court case, State v. Davis, ruled (in 2018) that “simply receiving a document from the Pardons and Paroles Board did not obviate the requirement to immediately report moving to a new address and being placed on that state’s county offender registry.” After receiving his pardon, Davis moved to North Carolina, thinking that his “pardon” allowed it, but the high court ruled that for such special exception to be effective, the Board’s Order must directly state that he was free to relocate without reporting the move to law enforcement agencies.
Yet, under the provisions of OCGA 42-1-19, a process is available under Georgia laws under which a convicted sex offender may file a petition with the sentencing court, and request removal of his or her name and identity from the Georgia sex offender registry. This process (which has very limited applicability) requires a showing that he or she:
- Has completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the offense which required registration pursuant to Code Section 42-1-12; and is confined to a hospice facility, skilled nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly, or nursing home; is totally and permanently disabled as such term is defined in Code Section 49-4-80; or is otherwise seriously physically incapacitated due to illness or injury;
- Was sentenced for a crime that became punishable as a misdemeanor on or after July 1, 2006, and meets the criteria set forth in sub paragraphs (c)(1)(A) through (c)(1)(F) of Code Section 17-10-6.2;Is required to register solely because he or she was convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment involving a minor and such offense did not involve a sexual offender against such minor or an attempt to commit a sexual offense against such minor. For purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘sexual offense’ means any offense listed in division (a)(10)(B)(i) or (a)(10)(B)(iv) through (a)(10)(B)(xix) of Code Section 42-1-12; or
- Has completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the offense which required registration pursuant to Code Section 42-1-12 and meets the criteria set forth in sub paragraphs (c)(1)(A) through (c)(1)(F) of Code Section 17-10-6.2.
Furthermore, if the convicted offender qualifies under the above requirements, the person will be considered for release from registration only if either (1) 10 years has elapsed since he or she completed all the requirements or (2) the individual has been classified by the Board as a Level I risk assessment classification.
If the Board has not done a risk assessment classification for the person, the court shall order such classification to be completed prior to considering the petition for release.
The “72 Hours” Rule for In-Person Visits to the County Sheriff’s Department
As outlined in OCGA Section 42-1-12(a)(10)(f), once released from custody at a state prison, the convicted sex offender must register in person with the sheriff of the county in which they will be residing, and do this within 72 hours from being released from a Georgia prison. Being homeless does not excuse complying with the “72-hours” rule. Wherever you SLEEP, that is the county of your registration.
Annual re-registration is also a necessity for convicted sex offenders. Within 72 hours of the person’s birthday annually, a new visit to the county sheriff’s department is mandated. The sex offender will also be photographed again and fingerprinted.
Are Juveniles With Delinquency Adjudications Required to Register as a Sex Offender in Georgia?
No, juvenile court dispositions do not create the necessity to become a registered sex offender. So, unless he or she was tried and convicted as an adult, no registration is required. O.C.G.A. §42-1-12(a)(9)(c).
What Happens When a Sexual Offender Moves to Georgia?
A sex offender coming to the Peach State from another state to Georgia, must appear at the Sheriff’s Department within his or her new county of residence within three days (72 hours) of relocating to GA. See OCGA 42-1-12(f)(2)
What Happens When a Georgia Sexual Offender Moves to Another State?
If a sex offender moves to another state, they are required to register their new address with the sheriff of the county with whom they last registered. They must also register with a designated law enforcement agency in the new state within 72 hours after establishing residence in the new state. O.C.G.A. §42-1-12(f)(5).
Thus, if a person from Panama City, FL moves to the City of Tifton in Tift County, GA, he or she must physically go to the Sheriff’s Department within 72 hours to identify himself or herself. Then, their identity and location can be checked for proximity to schools and churches and will be shown as a registered sex offender on any public sex offender list that re-posts from the Sheriff’s records.
The Consequences of Failing to Register As A Sex Offender or From Relocation to a New Address
Failing to register as a sex offender in Georgia is a major felony offense. Failure to do so will be grounds to be convicted under this statute. Failure to register as a sex offender, or for providing false information, or for not reporting to the county sheriff in a timely manner will presented as the evidence for another felony under OCGA Section 42-1-12(n). This carried 1 to 30 years for a first offense and from 5 years (minimum, mandatory) to 30 years as a maximum, for a second offense under this Georgia Code Section.
Of course, sex crime laws in Georgia do cover any dangerous sexual offender. It also includes a person who has been convicted in other states or territories. In addition, special sex laws enacted in Georgia require people who are deemed a sexually dangerous predator to register with Georgia and their local GA county sheriff.
A sexually dangerous predator is a man or woman who was designated (under state of Georgia laws) as such a category of offender between July 1, 1996 and June 30, 2006. OCGA 42-1-12 (a) (21).
Call our Law Firm 24 Hours a Day, Before Law Enforcement Questioning Occurs
Obviously, few parts of Georgia sex laws are as complicated or as hazardous to a person’s freedom as the GA SOR rules. Making an error can put the person behind bars again, however.
If you or a loved one has potential or actual issues, call now. Our law group maintains a 24-hour number for a free consultation with our sex lawyers: 404-567-5515.
Until you are represented by a sex crime attorney, say nothing AT ALL until you have a criminal defense lawyer from an experienced law office on your case. Be certain to select a law office with whom you have immediate contact.
Talking can be a sex crime lawyer’s most problematic evidence against our clients. If facing a potential new crime, you have the constitutional right to remain silent, so utilize it.