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Statutory Construction and the Georgia Sex Offender Registry

by merlin on November 11th, 2012
  • Sumo

Section 42-1-19 of the Georgia Code provides certain qualifications and requirements for a person seeking removal from the Georgia Sex Offender Registry.  Ultimately, however, the statute vests a certain amount of apparent discretion in the Superior Court judge who hears the Petition to grant removal from the Registry if he or she finds that certain conditions have been met, by using the idea that they “may” grant relief.

However, as much as the word “may” contains an idea of subjectivism, seeming to imply discretion in the judge to grant or deny relief if certain conditions have first been met, the statute must be read in light of ideas of statutory construction also contained explicitly in the Georgia Code.  Specifically, because the statute “concerns the public interest or affects the rights of third persons”, it must be read through the lens of Section 1-3-3(10:, which states that

“”[m]ay” ordinarily denotes permission and not command. However, where the word as used concerns the public interest or affects the rights of third persons, it shall be construed to mean “must” or “shall.””

“Must” or “shall” have a far more imperative meaning than “may”.  The public policy of Georgia is clear, and the new century calls for the advancement of our State, as any other.

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