In the state of Georgia, like many other states across the country, a criminal record may be erased under specific circumstances. This process is often referred to as restricting, sealing, or expunging a criminal record. Once a criminal record has been restricted in Georgia, it may only be accessed by criminal justice officials for particular reasons including law enforcement, a criminal investigation, or employment purposes. Below are the different scenarios under which a criminal record may be restricted in Georgia.
What is Record Restriction When There Was No Criminal Conviction?
Under Georgia law, criminal cases that are resolved without a conviction are generally eligible for restriction. For example, if you had criminal charges against you but the charges were dropped or dismissed – or you were found not guilty by a jury of your peers at trial – then you may have your criminal record restricted. Of note, you will not be able to restrict your criminal record in Georgia if any of the following applies to you:
- The act that resulted in the arrest was part of a pattern of criminal activity that had been prosecuted in another state or country;
- The case went to trial but you were not acquitted – or found not guilty – of all charges against you;
- You pleaded guilty to another charge in the criminal case; or
- The basis for the criminal charges being dropped or dismissed was due to you entering into a plea agreement.
In addition to the above, there are other exceptions that prohibit someone from having their Georgia criminal record restricted. These may be found in Section 35-3-37 of the Georgia Code.
What is Record Restriction When There Was a Criminal Conviction?
Unlike other states in the nation, there are some criminal convictions in Georgia that may be restricted under the law. These include:
- First-time drug possession offenses: if a person pleaded guilty to, or was convicted of, drug possession in Georgia but has never had a prior conviction for a drug offense and successfully completed all terms of probation, he or she may have a criminal record restricted in Georgia.
- Other first-time criminal offenses: under Georgia’s First Offender Act, some criminal defendants are allowed to receive probation instead of being subject to judgment by a criminal court. In such cases, if the defendant successfully completes probation and has not been arrested or conviction of another criminal offense, he or she may have the criminal record restricted in Georgia.
- Other criminal offenses: a criminal defendant does not qualify for expungement, sealing, or restriction of a criminal record for other convictions in the state of Georgia even if he or she received an official pardon for the criminal offense.
If you or someone you know has incorrect or incomplete information in your criminal record, Georgia law allows the individual to petition the state to have the record corrected.
Where to Find Criminal Defense Help in Georgia
While the Georgia Bureau of Investigation website has useful information, including the necessary forms required to file for criminal record restriction in Georgia, the process can be complicated. At Moffitt Law, LLC, our experienced Georgia criminal defense attorneys can guide you every step of the way and make sure your record restriction is done properly. Contact us today for your initial case evaluation to learn whether or not you qualify.