New year, new laws to take effect in Georgia

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) —New year, new laws. There will be some changes in Georgia this week, as several laws go into effect.

From education to medical, Georgia passed several laws for the new year. They also passed ordinance House Bill 478, regarding Georgia’s Child Abuse Registry.

Approved in April of last year, HB 478 raises the age limit to 18 for any offender of child abuse.

The way someone ends up on this registry is that there’s been a substantial claim of child abuse against them,” said district attorney David Cooke.

Prior to approval, the state entered offenders as young as 13 into the database, and didn’t remove them until they turned 18 and could prove they had been rehabilitated.

Important rationale is that if a child commits this type of offense before they’re 18 is very likely that they are also a victim of abuse themselves,” explained Cooke.

The district attorney says he believes Georgia passed this law to give an underage offenders a second chance.

To give people who were under the age of 18 a chance to grow up and mature but also to heal for whatever abuse they may have suffered themselves,” added the district attorney.

With the new law in effect, offenders who are considered minors can appeal to remove their name from the list.

For example it gives us a chance to say this investigation has not yet been completed or this person has been indicted but we haven’t finished bringing the case to trial yet,” said Cooke.

If a judge refuses to remove an offender from the registry after a hearing, the offender can request another three years later.