An area judge recently voided the sentence of a man who spent a year in jail for statutory rape and who wants the requirement that he register as a sex offender removed.
On May 21, Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale rescinded the sentence he imposed on William Archer Stulb, 23, in December 2005 after a jury found Stulb guilty of statutory rape.
"This will be the first time this has ever been done in Georgia, a jury verdict, sentencing and rescission," Wheale said at the hearing held at the Columbia County Justice Center and Courthouse Annex in Evans.
The action was within the judge's scope, Wheale said.
Stulb was convicted for having sexual contact in 2003 with a 14-year-old girl when he was 18. He was sentenced to one year in jail followed by nine years on probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.
At the time, the law did not require Stulb to register as a sex offender because of his age when he committed the offense. The option to require registration was at the discretion of the presiding judge, Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms said.
When the law changed in 2006, Stulb then was required to register as a sex offender.
In July 2007, Stulb asked Wheale to terminate his probation and resentence him to a misdemeanor so he would not have to register as a sex offender. Wheale said the charge could not be reduced to a misdemeanor and denied the request to terminate his probation.
Stulb's attorney, Richard Allen, said the rescinded sentence is only the first step toward having Stulb resentenced under the First Offender Act. As a first offender under the new law, Stulb would have to register only for the time he serves on probation, Syms said. If he is not resentenced as a first offender, Stulb would be required to register for life, but can petition the court to release him from the registry after 10 years.
"Now, we've got what I think is a bad law," Wheale said. "But it is law and we all have to follow it whether we like it or not.
"If I had known at the time I sentenced him that the (state) Legislature would change the law, and make it retroactive, and bootstrap him for the rest of his life, I would have given him first-offender treatment."
But Syms said he does not believe Stulb can be resentenced as a first offender because his conviction and sentence makes him a convicted felon. The first offender statute does not apply to those previously convicted of a felony, Syms said.
Wheale plans to hear arguments from Allen and Syms at Stulb's sentencing hearing, which has been scheduled for June 4 in Richmond County.
"You've got a big hurdle to overcome," Wheale said to Allen about his arguments that Stulb can legally be resentenced as a first offender.
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