Can I Get Off Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry?
Yes, it is possible to get off Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry. Our firm has helped dozens of people get their name removed from this list so they can get back to their lives without the unnecessary burdens placed on them by restrictive and inflexible sex offender laws.
It’s not automatic or easy, and it certainly won’t work in every case. But we do know how to get someone off the Sex Offender Registry, and we have dozens of very happy clients who no longer bear the burden of being on this list.
Our process is simple and it works. We start by learning more about our clients and what got them on the Registry to begin with. We find out about the facts of the initial charges against them, the outcome of the case and, more importantly, what they have been doing since they completed their sentence. We often get character letters, treatment records if any are available and, in some cases, we have bene able to get the cooperation of local probation and/or law enforcement.
The next step is to prepare and file a petition in the Superior Court of the county where the conviction occurred. If the conviction occurred in federal court or in a different state, then we file the petition in the county where the person currently lives.
After the petition is filed, a judge will hold a hearing to determine if the person should be released. At the hearing, we often present the testimony of people who know our client and how he or she has been able to put their lives back together since their conviction. We show the court that our client is not the kind of person who belongs on the Registry, and explain why sex offender restrictions are no longer appropriate in their case.
For a judge to grant our petition (and release the client from the Registry), we need to prove several things. First, the client has to have finished serving their sentence. (Any parole, probation, or supervised release must be completed.)
Second, the client must be classified by the Sex Offender Registration Review Board as a Level 1 if the person’s sentence has concluded in the past 10 years. If a person’s sentence has concluded in the past 10 years but he has not been classified, the judge will need to sign an order requiring the Board to classify the person before the hearing. Once the Board receives the judge’s order, the Board will have 90 days to classify the person and report its findings to the judge.
Finally, we need to show that the underlying case has a few specific characteristics: (1) the client has no other convictions for a sex offense; (2) there are no other similar allegations in the client’s past; (3) the victim in the case did not suffer any intentional physical harm; (4) the offense did not involve the transportation of the victim; and (5) the victim was not physically restrained during the offense.
If we can show the court these things, then our client is generally eligible for release from Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry.
In some cases, we can short-cut this process if our client is permanently disabled, was sentenced for a crime that later became punishable as a misdemeanor, or if the client was convicted of false imprisonment or kidnapping of a minor where there were no allegations of sexual abuse.
But just because the client is eligible doesn’t mean the cour will take him off the registry. Ultimately, we have to convince the judge that our client does not pose a “substantial risk of committing a future sexual offense.” Of course, different judges look for different things in determining if there is any risk that our client will commit another offense.
The best evidence to show a judge that the client will not commit another offense is the testimony of a therapist or counselor who may have treated our client at some point. If the therapist or counselor can testify that the individual completed treatment and is at a low risk of re-offending, then there is a good chance that the judge will grant the petition. We have been able to win many cases with this kind of testimony. While testimony from a therapist or counselor is not required, it can really help in the right case.
We have also found other types of witnesses very helpful in getting our client off the Registry. Here are a few examples:
- Probation Officers: If the client successfully completed probation, a probation officer can testify that the person followed all of the court’s instructions.
- Sheriff’s Deputies: In each county in Georgia, sheriff’s deputies ensure that people on the registry properly register. A sheriff’s deputy in charge of the registry can explain that our client has not had any registry violations.
- Family: Family members such as a wife or father-in-law can show that a client is a stable and supportive spouse or parent.
- Friends/Neighbors: Respected individuals in the community can demonstrate that our client is not perceived by others as a threat.
- Employers: A client’s employer can reaffirm that an individual is a stable and productive member of society.
Of course, everyone’s case is a little different, and there are many factors that must be taken into account when considering a petition for release (like the county where the offense occurred, the nature of the offense, how much time has passed, and the person’s criminal history).
The first step to getting off the Georgia Sex Offender Registry is to call a lawyer who has been successful in filing these petitions. If you or someone you know wants to get off the Registry, give us a call and we will tell you if we can help.
Page Pate is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, civil litigation, and whistleblower representation. Page is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers, and named to the list of Super Lawyers for the past 15 consecutive years. Page is a frequent expert legal analyst for local and national media and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. Read Page’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Page on Twitter @pagepate and on Linkedin.