In most cases, the most severe criminal sanction involves incarceration. However, in cases involving sex offenses, a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender is a disastrous consequence preventing individuals from obtaining employment and pursuing other endeavors. Many defendants find the lifelong registration requirement devastating.
There is good news. Recently, the legislature enacted O.C.G.A. § 42-1-9, a means by which certain Sex Offenders may seek removal from the Sex Offender Registry. It is not easy and it is not available to every offender. The first step is to determine eligibility.
Everyone on the registry wants to be removed. What does it take? To be eligible, the offender must fall in one of the four categories:
1.) Disabled Persons: The Offender must have completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the offense which required registration pursuant to Code Section 42-1-12; and
· be confined to a hospice facility, skilled nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly, or nursing home; or
· be totally and permanently disabled as such term is defined in Code Section 49-4-80; or
· be otherwise seriously physically incapacitated due to illness or injury;
2.) Romeo & Juliet: The Offender was sentenced for a crime that became punishable as a misdemeanor on or after July 1, 2006, and meets the criteria set forth in subparagraphs (c)(1)(A) through (c)(1)(F) of Code Section 17-10-6.2;
3.) Non-sexual Offense: The Offender was 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 offense 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
4.) Everyone Else: The Offender 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 subparagraphs (c)(1)(A) through (c)(1)(F) of Code Section 17-10-6.2. and
· either ten years have elapsed since the end of the sentence or
· the Offender is considered a Level I risk by the Sex Offender Review Board.
The disqualifiers mentioned in O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.2 are:
(A) The defendant has no prior conviction of an offense prohibited by Chapter 6 of Title 16 or Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 16, nor a prior conviction for any offense under federal law or the laws of another state or territory of the United States which consists of the same or similar elements of offenses prohibited by Chapter 6 of Title 16 or Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 16;
(B) The defendant did not use a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which when used offensively against a person would be likely to or actually did result in serious bodily injury during the commission of the offense;
(C) The court has not found evidence of a relevant similar transaction;
(D) The victim did not suffer any intentional physical harm during the commission of the offense;
(E) The offense did not involve the transportation of the victim; and
(F) The victim was not physically restrained during the commission of the offense.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, then you may file a Petition for Removal from the Sex Offender Registry. Additional requirements exist regarding venue, proper service of the petition, proper requirements for requesting a hearing, and necessary requests for relief. Therefore, the assistance of legal counsel is critical. Should your Petition fail for some reason, you must wait two years to file another Petition.