Up until this past Monday, a Georgia law required dangerous sexual predators to wear electronic monitors for life. However, the Georgia Supreme Court struck that law down this week. The Georgia Supreme Court held that the law violated the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches.
As a Georgia Sex Crimes Attorney, I will explain what this decision means in today's post.
What is a Sex Offender in Georgia?
According to Georgia Law, a sex offender is any individual who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or any dangerous sexual offender. It also includes a person who has been convicted in another state or territory. In addition, Georgia requires people who are deemed a sexually dangerous predator to register. A sexually dangerous predator is a person who was designated as one between July 1, 1966 and June 30, 2006. People who fall into these categories are required to register with the Georgia Sex Offender Registry.
Before Monday's Decision
Georgia Law before Monday's decision allowed for electronic monitoring post-sentence. Any offender who is still under a criminal sentence - meaning jail, prison, probation, or parole - has a diminished expectation of privacy. This means that such monitoring is deemed legally appropriate.
However, this law allowed for monitoring after offenders served all their time in jail, prison, probation or parole. The electronic monitoring allowed for the collection of information about these individuals twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. According to nationwide reports, more than thirty states in this country allow for GPS tracking of sex offenders. But Georgia, up until this past week, was one of few states that enforced the monitoring for life.
Joseph Park's Case
Joseph Park's case made it before the Georgia Supreme Court which brought about the striking down of the lifetime monitoring law. He was convicted of child molestation in Georgia and sexual exploitation of a minor in Georgia in 2003. Park was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Park served his sentence and when he was released from prison, a review board deemed him as “sexually dangerous” meaning that now he was required to be monitored for the rest of his life.
The Georgia Supreme Court Justices found that extending this type of electronic monitoring beyond the term of a sentence “authorizes a patently unreasonable search that runs afoul of the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment.” The Court upheld that after a person has served their sentence, the punishment for their crime is finished and their expectation of privacy must be restored.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Georgia Sex Crime Laws are complicated and should never be faced alone. Georgia has strict laws concerning sex offenders. People convicted of a dangerous sexual offense or someone who was convicted of a criminal offense against a minor that is not in prison must register as a sex offender. The individual will remain on the registry for life unless removed by the court.