Relief from the Sex Offender Registry

The label “sex offender” is today’s Scarlet Letter. Georgia’s
registration law casts a broad net, requiring many felons to register and to
comply with work or residency restriction even if their offenses weren’t
sexual at all. Penalties for failing to register are severe, and many
registrants are subject to a classification process that can brand them as
predators and saddle them with lifetime ankle monitoring and other heavy
burdens.

Georgia’s sex offender laws have been changing, often in response to
court decisions condemning those laws as unconstitutional. Procedures
now exist for challenging inappropriate classifications before the Sex
Offender Registration and Review Board, and then in the courts if
necessary. It’s even possible for a Superior Court to remove an offender
from the registry and cancel his obligations under the law. There haven’t
been a great many of these cases so far, but I have had success both in
decreasing a client’s offender classification and in freeing him from sex
offender status altogether. These relatively new laws raise a lot of
questions and uncertainties, so more court cases are sure to arise in this
area. I’m one of a few attorneys in the state who are working to develop
constitutional and legal arguments on behalf of persons who are singled
out and labeled “dangerous,” persons whose sex offender status interferes
with their daily lives and their prospects for employment.