In the last few years, the state of Georgia has enacted several criminal justice reforms aimed at giving people a second chance. The most recent reform allows an individual to remove certain misdemeanor convictions from their criminal history. Another law allows previously convicted felons to retroactively use first offender treatment to seal longstanding misdemeanor and/or felony convictions. Another such law allows recently convicted felons to not only use first offender treatment but to also seal the records of their case immediately even prior to the actual completion of their sentence.

Other individuals may just need assistance removing arrests from their criminal history from cases that were either won, dismissed, or not prosecuted at all. Georgia no longer uses official term “expungement”, but you may still be able to have your record restricted or sealed if you were:

  • Arrested but later won your case
  • Arrested but had your charges dismissed
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor with no other convictions in the past four years
  • Entered a first offender plea and need records sealed while on probation
  • Have only one felony conviction and have never used first offender

If you or someone you care for is seeking to expunge a criminal charge or conviction from their record, being able to do so effectively may require assistance from a qualified criminal defense attorney. For more information on this process for criminal records in Georgia, get in contact with a skilled McDonough expungement lawyer today.

What Does “Expungement” Mean?

When a person contacts us to expunge a criminal record, we know what they really want is to have it removed from their criminal history so the public cannot see it. Therefore, expungement may mean a retroactive first offender plea, sealing an old criminal conviction or restricting an arrest. The particular method employed to reach the end goal of a clean record will depend on the specifics of the individual’s case. As such, anyone seeking to expunge their criminal record should consult a seasoned attorney in McDonough before doing so.

Recent Changes to Expungement Laws

Most recently, the state legislature enacted SB 288 which became effective on January 1, 2021. This new law allows individuals with certain misdemeanor convictions to petition the court to restrict the conviction from their criminal history provided the individual has completed the terms of their sentence and had no new convictions in the last four years. Some of the common offenses eligible for restriction are:

  • Possession of marijuana
  • Shoplifting
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Battery and assault charges (as long as not family violence related)

More serious misdemeanors are not eligible for restriction such as:

On May 5, 2015, the state legislature enacted House Bill No. 310 which in part provided for retroactively granting first offender treatment to individuals who qualified for first offender treatment at the time of their conviction. As a result of this law, thousands of citizens who thought they would be stuck with a conviction forever can now petition to have the conviction sealed from their record entirely. As of July 1, 2016, individuals who have been granted first offender status but have not yet completed the sentenced, can still petition to have the case expunged prior to successfully completing the sentence by making a showing that they are having difficulty obtaining employment. For cases prior to July 1, 2016, the request can be made at any time during the sentence. For cases after July 1, 2016, the request must be made at the time of sentencing. In addition to these new developments in the law, citizens still have the option of petitioning to have their civil rights restored or to have their convictions officially pardoned by the state. Any of these options could have a profound effect on someone’s ability to obtain employment, housing, or gun ownership. Finally, depending on whether the arrest occurred before or after July 1, 2013, if a case was dismissed or not prosecuted for some other reason, then the arrest should either be automatically sealed from the record or done after a petition to the court. A lawyer in McDonough could explain how these new laws may apply to a specific expungement case.

Retain a Skilled McDonough Expungement Attorney Today

Expunging your criminal record can prove significantly beneficial but can be a complex process to undergo alone. With several determining factors for whether a charge or conviction can be removed from a person’s criminal record, it can be challenging to figure out the correct expungement procedure to go through. Fortunately, our team of experienced attorneys are here to help. A qualified lawyer who is familiar with the expungement process could assist a defendant with removing a charge or conviction from their record in an efficient manner.

If you or someone you know is looking to expunge a criminal charge or conviction from their public record, seeking sufficient legal representation is crucial. In order to get the most out of your free consultation, you will need a copy of your criminal history which can be requested at your local sheriff’s office or police station. To request a full copy of your Georgia Criminal History, you will need a driver’s license or photo ID, your social security number, and date of birth. To learn more about this process and what you need to do to remove a conviction from your record, speak with a knowledgeable McDonough expungement lawyer from our firm today.

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Carl Chapman
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