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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Sex Crimes > Georgia Sex Offender Registration and the “72-Hour” Rule

Georgia Sex Offender Registration and the “72-Hour” Rule


In Georgia, a sex crimes conviction will follow you long after you serve any prison sentence. Every state has certain requirements for people convicted of specified sex offenses to register as “sex offenders.” Under Georgia law, just about anyone convicted of a “dangerous sexual offense” in any state must register if they live in Georgia.

Specifically, there is a 72-hour rule. When a sex offender is released from prison and takes up residency anywhere in Georgia, they have 72 hours to register with the local sheriff. This registration must include information about the offender’s address, employment, and any motor vehicles they own, among other things. This registration must be renewed each year within 72 hours of the offender’s birthday. And if there are any changes to the required information–such as the offender changes residences or jobs–hey have 72 hours to notify the local sheriff.

Failure to strictly comply with any of these registration requirements is considered a separate crime under Georgia law. And we are not talking about a misdemeanor. Failure to register is a felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Court of Appeals Reverses Conviction

Given the severe consequences for failing to maintain sex offender registration, it is important to remember that just like any other criminal charge, the burden of proof is on the state to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently overturned a failure to register conviction because the prosecution failed to prove the defendant did not comply with the 72-hour rule in updating his registration.

The case, Buchanan v. State, involved a defendant convicted in 2012 of various sex offenses. He was required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison in 2017. The defendant complied with this requirement after moving in with his parents, who lived in Floyd County.

In 2023, a local sheriff’s deputy went to the defendant’s residence to make sure his registration was up to date. The defendant told the deputy that he now “worked part-time for his father.” But the defendant’s registration forms did not reflect this employment. On that basis, the deputy arrested the defendant for failing to update his registration within 72 hours of changing employment.

A trial judge, sitting without a jury, found the defendant guilty. The Court of Appeals reversed, however, explaining that the prosecution introduced no evidence regarding when the defendant started working for his father. The deputy might have assumed the defendant had been working for his father for more than 72 hours. But absent actual evidence, the Court of Appeals said the state failed to establish an “essential element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Even a sex crimes accusation can have devastating consequences on your life. So it is imperative that you work with an experienced Atlanta sex crimes lawyer who will zealously represent you in contesting such charges. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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