Failure to Register As a Sex Offender in Georgia
Failing to register as a sex offender carries extended prison sentences in Georgia. If a person is found guilty of a sexually based crime, then they are required to register as a sex offender in Georgia. Offenders are given time after a conviction to register but will face severe consequences if they fail to do so. You need an experienced Failure to Register as a Sex Offender Attorney in Georgia if you or a loved one has been charged. There are defenses at your disposal, but you must seek representation immediately. Remember, a charge is not the as a conviction! Do not plead guilty to failure to register as a sex offender in Georgia because it will have a drastic effect on your future. Contact us for a free case evaluation and see what your options are.
Georgia Requirements for Registering as a Sex Offender
If required to register as a sex offender in Georgia, you must:
1. Provide the required information to the appropriate law enforcement official before you are released from prison or placed on parole, supervised release, or probation;
2. Register in person with the sheriff of the county in which you reside within 72 hours after your release
3. If you are homeless, you still have 72 hours to notify the sheriff of the county where you sleep. O.C.G.A. §42-1-12
What Happens if You Do Not Register as a Sex Offender?
If you are required to register as a sex offender and fail to do so, there will be severe repercussions. A first conviction for failing to report your address is punished by a prison term between one and thirty years.
A second conviction for failing to register will be a prison term between five and thirty years.
What If It Was An Accident?
Unfortunately, failing to register is a strict liability crime. What this translates to is that it does not matter whether it was completed by accident or on purpose. Whether or not a person intended to register or not is not taken into account. The simple act of not reporting to the Sheriff's Office in the county in which they live will be enough to sustain a conviction.
This is unusual because most criminal offenses are not strict liability crimes. The majority of strict liability laws deal with traffic-related crimes. For example, a driver does not have to intend to speed to be proven guilty of speeding. Furthermore, a driver can accidentally fail to stop at a stop sign and be guilty of rolling a stop sign. Your intent is not looked at. Instead, it is sufficient that you completed the crime.
Georgia Case Law
A man was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender when he listed his cousin's address on the registration form but did not live there. When police officers attempted to confirm the residence was, in fact, his address, the cousin testified that the sex offender had never lived there. Therefore, he was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender because the address he provided was not where he was actually living. Scott v. State, 303 Ga. App. 672, (2010).
Another case where the accused was found guilty of failing to register as a sex offender was in State v. Canup. In this case, the defendant, Steven Canup, was convicted of attempted child molestation and was required to register. His address was his father's residence. When Canup did not show up for probation and did not try to contact his probation officer, a warrant was issued for his arrest. The police went to the address on file, but his father stated that he was not there and had moved to his mother's house. Canup's father testified that he had been there for two weeks. During the trial, Canup argued that he was only temporarily staying with his mother and had planned to return to his father's house. However, the Court found that the evidence presented did not support his argument. Based on the father's testimony that Canup had moved, Canup missing probation, and him not notifying probation the Court found that he intended to change his residence without informing the local authorities as required by law. Therefore, he was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender. 300 Ga. App. 678, (2009).
The case of Jones v. State demonstrates a situation where the accused was acquitted of the charge of failing to register as a sex offender. Charles Jones was convicted of statutory rape and interference with custody in 2004. He was required to be listed on the sex offender registry for life. O.C.G.A. §42-1-12(f)(4) requires that the sex offender report in person to the sheriff of the county in which they reside within 72 hours of their birthday each year to be photographed and fingerprinted. Jones's birthday is September 26. On September 18, 2015, he signed a lease for a house in Walton County. He started sleeping at the Walton County home on September 23, 2015. On Friday, September 25, Jones reported to the Walton County Sheriff's Department to register for the county's sex offender registry. However, Gwinnett County was under the impression that Jones was still a resident of Gwinnett County on his birthday and since he did not register with them within 72 hours of his birthday, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was arrested at his Walton County residence. At trial, Jones argued that he did not violate the statute because he was already residing at the Walton County address and he registered there in time. The Court agreed, and his conviction for failing to register was reversed. 340 Ga. App. 398, (2017).
Are There Defenses to Failing to Register as a Sex Offender in Georgia?
Yes! However, you need an experienced Georgia Sex Offender Attorney on your side. Your failure to register as a sex offender lawyer in Georgia will help determine if the State has enough evidence to convict you. They can argue for a dismissal of the charge or a reduction to a misdemeanor charge. Another option is a resolution that involves only probation with no prison time. There are options for your case, but you need to contact an experienced Georgia Sex Offender Lawyer now.
As seen in the case of Jones v. State, a misunderstanding of where the accused was living may be a sufficient argument.
There is no one defense fits all. Instead, every case must be thoroughly scrutinized to determine what the best arguments are for your situation. Our Sex Crime Attorneys in Georgia evaluate every case this way and are prepared to help you today.