Recent changes to Georgia’s sex offender registry offer hope for removing low-level offenders
A new Georgia sex offender law will allow many low level sex offenders to be taken off the registry much sooner than previously allowed. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2010, has been hailed by proponents as a second chance for many of Georgia’s 16,000 convicted sex offenders.
Until the passage of this new law, Georgia was widely criticized for having overly-harsh sex offender laws which primarily focused on punishment instead of protecting the public. The previous law required all convicted sex offenders to wait until 10 years after the completion of any prison, parole or probation sentence before they could petition to be taken off the sex offender registry.
The new law removes the 10 year waiting period for offenders classified as a Level 1 risk assessment, and allows these individuals to file a petition immediately upon completing all prison, parole and probation. A Level 1 risk assessment classification is given to individuals who pose little or no risk to society.
In order for a Level 1 individual to be removed from Georgia’s registry, the individual’s attorney must file a petition for release in the superior court where the conviction occurred. Once the petition has been filed, the court will hold a hearing at which time it may consider any relevant evidence from the individual’s attorney or the district attorney. For a court to release an individual from the registry, the judge must find that the individual does not pose a substantial risk of perpetrating any future sex crimes. The judge may then issue an order which releases the individual from all or some registration, residency or employment requirements.
In addition to Level 1 individuals, the new law also offers hope to offenders who never committed a sexual offense. Under Georgia law, a person convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor is automatically required to register as a sex offender. The new Georgia law allows these individuals to file a petition to be removed from the sex offender registry without any waiting periods.
The hope is that Georgia’s new sex offender law will provide a second chance to the most sympathetic and deserving individuals while protecting the public from dangerous offenders.
Our sex crimes defense attorneys have helped many individuals navigate the difficult process of being taken off Georgia’s sex offender registry. We are pleased that this new Georgia law has finally made the process more accessible to many individuals who simply do not belong on the registry and never did.