How to Get Off the Sex Offender Registry in Georgia: A Concise Guide

What is the Georgia sex offender registry, and can I get removed from it?

The Georgia Sex Offender Registry is used to track and monitor convicted sex offenders. Georgia law provides a process for removal. A court will consider criteria like the time elapsed since completion of the sentence, risk assessment level, nature of the offense committed, behavior post-conviction, and expert witness testimony.

Being on the sex offender registry in Georgia can profoundly impact your life, from employment opportunities to housing options.

However, there is hope for relief through legal avenues that allow certain individuals to be removed from the registry – whether a conviction was in Georgia or in another state.

If you or a loved one are seeking to understand this process, as Georgia sex offender removal lawyers we wanted to provide you with this guide to walk you through the necessary steps and considerations.

Understanding the Georgia Sex Offender Registry

The Georgia Sex Offender Registry is designed to monitor individuals convicted of specific sexual offenses, ensuring public safety and providing crucial information to the community.

The registry can be accessed via the internet and people can search for registrants throughout the state, in a particular city, street, or zip code. The registry is meant to be accessible and easy-to-use.

The consequences of being on the registry are significant, often including restrictions on where you can live and work, and a lasting stigma that can affect various aspects of your life.

Criteria for Removal from the Registry

Not everyone on the sex offender registry is eligible for removal. Georgia law stipulates several criteria that must be met, including:

  1. Completion of Sentence: You must have completed all terms of your sentence, including probation or parole.
  2. Time Since Completion: Typically, a certain amount of time, 10 years, must have passed since you completed your sentence.
  3. Risk Assessment: You may need to undergo a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of reoffending.
  4. Offense Type: The nature of your offense and your criminal history will be taken into account.
  5. Behavior Post-Conviction: Demonstrating good behavior and rehabilitation since your conviction can support your case.

Legal Process for Removal

The process for petitioning to be removed from the Georgia Sex Offender Registry involves several steps, and having legal representation is highly recommended to navigate this complex process effectively.

  1. Eligibility Check: The first step is to determine if you are eligible for removal based on the criteria outlined above. An experienced attorney can assess your situation and advise you accordingly.
  2. Filing a Petition: If eligible, your attorney will help you file a petition for removal with the Superior Court in the county where you were convicted.
  3. Risk Assessment Evaluation: You may need to undergo a risk assessment evaluation, typically conducted by a state-appointed psychologist or psychiatrist. Risk classifications are done by the Sexual Offender Risk Review Board (“SORRB”), a board created by Georgia law. O.C.G.A. § 42-1-13.
  4. Hearing: A court hearing will be scheduled where you and your attorney will present your case. This hearing is your opportunity to demonstrate your rehabilitation and argue why you should be removed from the registry.
  5. Court Decision: The judge will consider various factors, including your risk assessment results, the nature of your offense, and your behavior since conviction. If the judge grants your petition, you will be removed from the registry.

What are the risk assessment classifications assigned?

The Sexual Offender Risk Review Board (“SORRB”) determines the risk assessment level of an offender. Here is a concise description of the risk assessment classifications – the “levels”:

  • Level I: This is the lowest level. It means the sexual offender is a low sex offense risk, and low recidivism risk for future sexual offenses.
  • Level II: The next highest level. This indicates the sexual offender is an intermediate sex offense risk, and intermediate recidivism risk for future sexual offenses, and includes all sexual offenders who do not meet the criteria for classification either as a sexually dangerous predator, or for Level I risk assessment.
  • Sexually Dangerous Predator: The highest classification of the board. This designation means a sexual offender:
  • (a) Who was designated as a sexually violent predator between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 2006; or
  • (b) Who is determined by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board to be at risk of perpetrating any future dangerous sexual offense.

Offenders are allowed to submit documents to the Board

Prior to being levelled, an offender may submit relevant documents to the board.

    • Sexual offenders may provide the board with information to help the board with its assessment. This information includes psychological evaluations, sexual history polygraph information, treatment history, personal, social, educational, and work history. The point is for the board to understand you as a total person and not make a decision based simply on criminal charges.

Times change: Some felonies are now misdemeanors under Georgia law

The sex offender law often changes – the Georgia legislature frequently modifies the rules and requirements for the registry. Accordingly, many criminal offenses that were at one time felonies are now misdemeanors, a less serious charge, under present Georgia law,

These offenses, for example, involved people who were eighteen (18) years old or younger at the time of the offense and victims who were fourteen (14) years old or older, and with no more than a four (4) year age difference between the two. If your case involved this situation, you may be eligible to petition for removal from the sex offender registry immediately, even if you are still on probation.

An Out-of-State Conviction: The Process for Removal

When an out-of-state conviction is involved and registration is required, removal is possible under Georgia law. The process is the same and the criteria used by the judge is the same whether the conviction was in Georgia or out-of-state.

With an out-of-state conviction, the petition must be filed in the county where the registrant lives.

As with a Georgia conviction, we will need to get documentation regarding the conviction. This includes the original police reports, the indictment (or similar documents), the sentence of the court, and, possibly, relevant transcripts. If other information is needed, we will seek to obtain it.

Importance of Legal Representation

Navigating the legal system can be daunting, and the stakes are high when seeking removal from the Georgia sex offender registry. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable assistance by:

  • Assessing Your Eligibility: Determining whether you meet the criteria for removal.
  • Preparing Your Case: Gathering evidence and preparing a strong case for your hearing.
  • Representing You in Court: Advocating on your behalf during the court hearing.
  • Providing Legal Guidance: Offering advice and support throughout the entire process.

What happens at the removal hearing?

A removal hearing is conducted by a superior court judge. Here is an overview of what happens:

  • A judge must first determine if the individual is even eligible to be removed.
  • If an individual is eligible for removal, the judge can release the individual from the registry if the judge determines that the offender “does not pose a substantial risk of perpetrating any future dangerous sexual offense.”
  • Judges can weigh various factors when deciding. A judge will look at the charges and the offender’s conduct in prison and on probation, parole, or supervised release, as well as all of his or her subsequent conduct. The judge wants to know if the offender is working and law-abiding.
  • Character witness testimony can be presented. Testimony from a psychologist or therapist who has treated and evaluated the individual can be persuasive.
  • The court may either remove the offender from the registry or lift only certain conditions of registration. The court can also grant the offender’s petition on a temporary or permanent basis.

We Can Help You Get Off the Georgia Sex Offender Registry

Getting off the Georgia Sex Offender Registry is a complex but achievable goal for many individuals. By understanding the criteria, following the legal process, and seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney, you can take significant steps toward reclaiming your life and moving forward.

At the Sherman Law Group, we specialize in helping clients navigate this challenging process. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation.

If you or a loved one are seeking removal from the Georgia Sex Offender Registry, contact us today for a consultation. We are here to help you every step of the way.

When you need a Georgia Sex Offender Registry Removal Lawyer, we want to help you take the next step toward a brighter, happy and more fulfilling future.

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