2022 Georgia Code
Title 17 - Criminal Procedure
Chapter 10 - Sentence and Punishment
Article 1 - Procedure for Sentencing and Imposition of Punishment
§ 17-10-6.1. Punishment for Serious Violent Offenders; Authorization for Reduction in Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Universal Citation: GA Code § 17-10-6.1 (2022)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term “serious violent felony” means:
    1. Murder or felony murder, as defined in Code Section 16-5-1;
    2. Armed robbery, as defined in Code Section 16-8-41;
    3. Kidnapping, as defined in Code Section 16-5-40;
    4. Rape, as defined in Code Section 16-6-1;
    5. Aggravated child molestation, as defined in subsection (c) of Code Section 16-6-4, unless subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of subsection (d) of Code Section 16-6-4;
    6. Aggravated sodomy, as defined in Code Section 16-6-2; or
    7. Aggravated sexual battery, as defined in Code Section 16-6-22.2.
    1. Except as provided in subsection (e) of this Code section, any person convicted of the serious violent felony of kidnapping involving a victim who is 14 years of age or older or armed robbery shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years, and no portion of the mandatory minimum sentence imposed shall be suspended, stayed, probated, deferred, or withheld by the sentencing court.
    2. Except as provided in subsection (e) of this Code section, the sentence of any person convicted of the serious violent felony of:
      1. Kidnapping involving a victim who is less than 14 years of age;
      2. Rape;
      3. Aggravated child molestation, as defined in subsection (c) of Code Section 16-6-4, unless subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of subsection (d) of Code Section 16-6-4;
      4. Aggravated sodomy, as defined in Code Section 16-6-2; or
      5. Aggravated sexual battery, as defined in Code Section 16-6-22.2

        shall, unless sentenced to life imprisonment, be a split sentence which shall include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years, followed by probation for life, and no portion of the mandatory minimum sentence imposed shall be suspended, stayed, probated, deferred, or withheld by the sentencing court.

    3. No person convicted of a serious violent felony shall be sentenced as a first offender pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 42, relating to probation for first offenders, or any other provision of Georgia law relating to the sentencing of first offenders. The State of Georgia shall have the right to appeal any sentence which is imposed by the superior court which does not conform to the provisions of this subsection in the same manner as is provided for other appeals by the state in accordance with Chapter 7 of Title 5, relating to appeals or certiorari by the state.
    1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of Code Section 42-9-39, for a first conviction of a serious violent felony in which the accused has been sentenced to life imprisonment, that person shall not be eligible for any form of parole or early release administered by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles until that person has served a minimum of 30 years in prison. The minimum term of imprisonment shall not be reduced by any earned time, early release, work release, leave, or other sentence-reducing measures under programs administered by the Department of Corrections.
    2. For a first conviction of a serious violent felony in which the accused has been sentenced to death but the sentence of death has been commuted to life imprisonment, that person shall not be eligible for any form of parole or early release administered by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles until that person has served a minimum of 30 years in prison. The minimum term of imprisonment shall not be reduced by any earned time, early release, work release, leave, or other sentence-reducing measures under programs administered by the Department of Corrections.
    3. For a first conviction of a serious violent felony in which the accused has been sentenced to imprisonment for life without parole, that person shall not be eligible for any form of parole or early release administered by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles or for any earned time, early release, work release, leave, or other sentence-reducing measures under programs administered by the Department of Corrections.
    4. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, any sentence imposed for the first conviction of any serious violent felony shall be served in its entirety as imposed by the sentencing court and shall not be reduced by any form of parole or early release administered by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles or by any earned time, early release, work release, leave, or other sentence-reducing measures under programs administered by the Department of Corrections, the effect of which would be to reduce the period of incarceration ordered by the sentencing court; provided, however, that during the final year of incarceration an offender so sentenced shall be eligible to be considered for participation in a department administered transitional center or work release program.
  2. For purposes of this Code section, a first conviction of any serious violent felony means that the person has never been convicted of a serious violent felony under the laws of this state or of an offense under the laws of any other state or of the United States, which offense if committed in this state would be a serious violent felony. Conviction of two or more crimes charged on separate counts of one indictment or accusation, or in two or more indictments or accusations consolidated for trial, shall be deemed to be only one conviction.
  3. In the court’s discretion, the judge may depart from the mandatory minimum sentence specified in this Code section for a person who is convicted of a serious violent felony when the prosecuting attorney and the defendant have agreed to a sentence that is below such mandatory minimum.
  4. Any sentence imposed pursuant to this Code section shall not be reduced by any earned time, early release, work release, leave, or other sentence-reducing measures under programs administered by the Department of Corrections, the effect of which would be to reduce the period of incarceration ordered by the sentencing court or any form of pardon, parole, or commutation of sentence by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles; provided, however, that during the final year of incarceration, a defendant so sentenced shall be eligible to be considered for participation in a Department of Corrections administered transitional center or work release program.

History. Code 1981, § 17-10-6.1 , enacted by Ga. L. 1994, p. 1959, § 11; Ga. L. 1998, p. 180, § 2; Ga. L. 2006, p. 379, § 20/HB 1059; Ga. L. 2009, p. 64, § 1/SB 193; Ga. L. 2009, p. 223, § 3/SB 13; Ga. L. 2011, p. 752, § 17/HB 142; Ga. L. 2013, p. 222, § 8/HB 349; Ga. L. 2014, p. 866, § 17/SB 340.

Editor’s notes.

Ga. L. 1994, p. 1959, § 1, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: “This Act shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Sentence Reform Act of 1994.’ ”

Ga. L. 1994, p. 1959, § 2, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: “The General Assembly declares and finds:

“(1) That persons who are convicted of certain serious violent felonies shall serve minimum terms of imprisonment which shall not be suspended, probated, stayed, deferred, or otherwise withheld by the sentencing judge; and

“(2) That sentences ordered by courts in cases of certain serious violent felonies shall be served in their entirety and shall not be reduced by parole or by any earned time, early release, work release, or other such sentence-reducing measures administered by the Department of Corrections.”

Ga. L. 1994, p. 1959, § 16, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: “The provisions of this Act shall apply only to those offenses committed on or after the effective date of this Act; provided, however, that any conviction occurring prior to, on, or after the effective date of this Act shall be deemed a ‘conviction’ for the purposes of this Act and shall be counted in determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed for any offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act.” This Act became effective January 1, 1995.

Ga. L. 1998, p. 180, § 1, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: “The General Assembly declares and finds: (1) That the ‘Sentence Reform Act of 1994,’ approved April 20, 1994 (Ga. L. 1994, p. 1959), provided that persons convicted of one of seven serious violent felonies shall serve minimum mandatory terms of imprisonment which shall not otherwise be suspended, stayed, probated, deferred, or withheld by the sentencing court; (2) That in , 225 Ga. App. 509 (1997), the Georgia Court of Appeals held, notwithstanding the ‘Sentence Reform Act of 1994,’ that the provisions of the First Offender Act would still be available to the sentencing court, which would mean that a person who committed a serious violent felony could be sentenced to less than the minimum mandatory ten-year sentence; and (3) That, contrary to the decision in State v. Allmond , it is the expressed intent of the General Assembly that persons who commit a serious violent felony specified in the ‘Sentence Reform Act of 1994’ shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than ten years and shall not be eligible for first offender treatment.”

Ga. L. 2006, p. 379, § 1/HB 1059, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “The General Assembly finds and declares that recidivist sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to the public safety. Many sexual offenders are extremely likely to use physical violence and to repeat their offenses; and some sexual offenders commit many offenses, have many more victims than are ever reported, and are prosecuted for only a fraction of their crimes. The General Assembly finds that this makes the cost of sexual offender victimization to society at large, while incalculable, clearly exorbitant. The General Assembly further finds that the high level of threat that a sexual predator presents to the public safety, and the long-term effects suffered by victims of sex offenses, provide the state with sufficient justification to implement a strategy that includes:

“(1) Incarcerating sexual offenders and maintaining adequate facilities to ensure that decisions to release sexual predators into the community are not made on the basis of inadequate space;

“(2) Requiring the registration of sexual offenders, with a requirement that complete and accurate information be maintained and accessible for use by law enforcement authorities, communities, and the public;

“(3) Providing for community and public notification concerning the presence of sexual offenders;

“(4) Collecting data relative to sexual offenses and sexual offenders;

“(5) Requiring sexual predators who are released into the community to wear an electronic monitoring system for the rest of their natural life and to pay for such system; and

“(6) Prohibiting sexual predators from working with children, either for compensation or as a volunteer.

“The General Assembly further finds that the state has a compelling interest in protecting the public from sexual offenders and in protecting children from predatory sexual activity, and there is sufficient justification for requiring sexual offenders to register and for requiring community and public notification of the presence of sexual offenders. The General Assembly declares that in order to protect the public, it is necessary that the sexual offenders be registered and that members of the community and the public be notified of a sexual offender’s presence. The designation of a person as a sexual offender is neither a sentence nor a punishment but simply a regulatory mechanism and status resulting from the conviction of certain crimes. Likewise, the designation of a person as a sexual predator is neither a sentence nor a punishment but simply a regulatory mechanism and status resulting from findings by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board and a court if requested by a sexual offender.”

Ga. L. 2006, p. 379, § 30(c)/HB 1059, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “The provisions of this Act shall not affect or abate the status as a crime of any such act or omission which occurred prior to the effective date of the Act repealing, repealing and reenacting, or amending such law, nor shall the prosecution of such crime be abated as a result of such repeal, repeal and reenactment, or amendment.” This Act became effective July 1, 2006.

Ga. L. 2009, p. 223, § 8/SB 13, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “Except as provided in this section, the provisions of this Act shall apply only to those offenses committed after the effective date of this Act. With express written consent of the state, an accused whose offense was committed prior to the effective date of this Act may elect in writing to be sentenced under the provisions of this Act, provided that: (1) jeopardy for the offense charged has not attached or (2) the accused has been sentenced to death but the conviction or sentence has been reversed on appeal and the state is not barred from seeking prosecution after the remand.”

Ga. L. 2009, p. 223, § 9/SB 13, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “Except as provided in Section 8 of this Act, the amendment or repeal of a Code section by this Act shall not affect any sentence imposed by any court of this state prior to the effective date of this Act.”

Ga. L. 2009, p. 223, § 10/SB 13, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “A person may be sentenced to life without parole without the prosecutor seeking the death penalty under the laws of this state.” Ga. L. 2011, p. 752, § 17(3)/HB 142 codified these provisions at Code Section 17-10-16.1.

Ga. L. 2009, p. 223, § 11(a)/SB 13, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that the law as set forth in this Code section as it existed prior to April 29, 2009, shall apply to all offenses committed on and before April 29, 2009, and the amendments by this Act shall apply to all crimes committed on and after April 29, 2009.

Ga. L. 2009, p. 223, § 11(b)/SB 13, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “The provisions of this Act shall not affect or abate the status as a crime of any such act or omission which occurred prior to the effective date of the Act repealing, repealing and reenacting, or amending such law, nor shall the prosecution of such crime be abated as a result of such repeal, repeal and reenactment, or amendment.”

Ga. L. 2011, p. 752, § 17(2)/HB 142, not codified by the General Assembly, provides, in part, that the amendment to paragraph (b)(2) was made to conform with Merritt v. State, 286 Ga. 650 (2010).

Ga. L. 2013, p. 222, § 21/HB 349, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: “This Act shall become effective on July 1, 2013, and shall apply to offenses which occur on or after that date. Any offense occurring before July 1, 2013, shall be governed by the statute in effect at the time of such offense.”

Law reviews.

For article, “Campbell v. Georgia: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Survives Separation of Power Attacks, Remaining a Viable Option for the Legislature in Its War on Crime,” see 17 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 637 (2001).

For note, “Can’t Do the Time, Don’t Do the Crime?: Dixon v. State, Statutory Construction, and the Harsh Realities of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in Georgia,” see 22 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 519 (2005).

For note, “Calling on the Legislature: Dixon v. State and Georgia’s Statutory Scheme to Protect Minors from Sexual Exploitation,” see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 777 (2005).

For article, “Appeal and Error: Appeal or Certiorari by State in Criminal Cases,” see 30 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 17 (2013).

For annual survey on criminal law, see 66 Mercer L. Rev. 37 (2014).

For article, “SB 174: Revising Georgia’s List of Bail Restricted Offenses,” see 38 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 41 (2021).

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