Georgia Felony Expungement
What is criminal record restriction (expungement)?
Can I expunge a felony in GA?
Not all felonies are eligible for expungement. Serious violent felonies (like murder or armed robbery) are generally ineligible for record restriction. On other hand, for some types of felonies, expungement or record restriction may be available. Individuals with a felony arrest, felony charge, or felony conviction on their record may be eligible for expungement. Under the Georgia “Second Chance” Bill, signed into law in August 2020 (to become effective in 2021), the scope of felonies eligible for record restriction is growing. Consult an attorney about changes in GA criminal record restriction laws to understand how your criminal record might be affected.
Under Georgia law, individuals can seek criminal record expungement if they meet the specific requirements of Georgia’s record restriction law (O.C.G.A. § 35-3-17). There are different legal avenues for seeking expungement of a criminal record:
- Non-Conviction: There are two ways that your case could result in a non-conviction: (1) dropped or dismissed charges by the prosecutor or (2) acquittal. If prosecutors drop or dismiss your charges prior to trial because, for example, they lack sufficient evidence, then you may be entitled to removing your felony arrest record. Similarly, if your case goes to trial and the jury finds you not guilty, then you will be acquitted of the charges and you may be able to restrict your felony arrest record.
- Youthful Offenders: For criminal offenses committed under the age of 21, Georgia law provides some relief for those who qualify as “youthful offenders.” If an underage person, teenager, or minor commits a criminal offense, they can sometimes seek expungement of the criminal charges by maintaining a clean record for a period of years after their arrest. To restrict access to crimes committed as a youthful offender, the offender must usually complete the terms of their sentence or probation and not be arrested for the following 5 years.
- First-Time Offenders: For some drug crimes and other similar offenses in Georgia, the First Offenders Act may provide a legal option to expunge your criminal record. First-Time Offender status may be granted to defendants who aren’t usually wrapped up in the criminal justice system—including those who have never received a felony conviction and are not charged with a serious violent crime. If a defendant completes the terms of their sentence or probation (including any drug treatment or mental health program) and is not arrested for a period of years, then the defendant may be eligible to expunge their criminal record. The First Offender Act is not acknowledged by all states or the federal government, so there is no universal guarantee that an arrest or conviction will be sealed from the view of future employers or background checks conducted in other states.
- Conditional Discharge: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-13-2, a “conditional discharge” may be available for first-time drug possession and other qualified drug offenses. A conditional discharge may permit a criminal defendant to discharge a conviction after completion of the conditions of sentencing, including a period of non-arrest and no violations of probation.
What crimes are not eligible for expungement?
Some types of criminal charges are not eligible for criminal record restriction, including (i) violent felony crimes like murder and armed robbery, (ii) sexual offenses, (iii) criminal offenses against children, (iv) some cybercrimes, and (v) other serious felonies. You should always consult an attorney about how an arrest for these crimes might affect you into the future.
Will my criminal record show up on a background check?
Expunge My Criminal Record in Georgia
By design, the process of expunging or sealing a criminal record is difficult. In fact, the Georgia record restriction law is over 10 pages in length, with multiple sections, subparts, and confusing exceptions. Navigating this process is no easy task, which is why consulting an attorney is your best option for handling criminal record expungement. From felony charges to misdemeanor charges, our team of criminal lawyers has the experience to get the job done. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. (770) 956-4030
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