Court rules man won't have to register as sex offender

A Muscogee County man who pled guilty to a reduced charge after he was indicted for sexually abusing a little girl in Lee County (Ala.) won't have to register as a sex offender, according to a ruling today by the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Mario Urbina, of Columbus, was teaching piano lessons in Auburn, Ala., when he allegedly lured a female child into a room at Auburn United Methodist Church. There he was accused of engaging in some kind of sexual conduct with the child, who was younger than 12 years old.

Urbina was indicted on charges of enticing a child to enter for immoral purposes and sex abuse of a child less than 12 years of age. In April 2012, Urbina pled guilty to a less serious and non-sexual offense of interference with custody, a felony in Alabama. Urbina was to serve four years in prison, but the court a month later reduced the sentence to probation, which Urbina sought to transfer to Georgia so he could return to Muscogee County with his wife and children.

Because Urbina pled guilty to a felony in Alabama, the Georgia Department of Corrections informed him he would be required to register as a sex offender. Urbina then sued the department seeking to prohibit the department from forcing him to register.

The Supreme Court's ruling upholds a Fulton County judgment that said Urbina did not have to register. While the trial court based its ruling on the distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony, the Supreme Court based its ruling on the distinction between the crime with which he was charged and the crime of which he was ultimately convicted.

"The factual basis set forth in the later information upon which Urbina was actually convicted are quite different, and it is the facts related to the conviction, not the allegations relating to the abandoned indictment, which must control our analysis," today’s opinion said.