Criminal arrests and convictions can have long-lasting consequences. Anyone who has been convicted of a felony can tell you that it creates some major barriers for employment, education, housing, and even child custody.
This is because many potential employers, schools, or landlords run background checks, which inevitably involve checking your public criminal record maintained by the state of Georgia.
But will a domestic violence charge show up on one of these background checks? And how can you clear your criminal record so that you are open to more opportunities in the future?
From the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Frye Law Group, read on to find out everything you need to know about domestic violence charges, background checks, and record restriction.
Public records and background checks
You technically have two criminal records, one maintained by the state of Georgia, and one maintained by the federal government. For most people, the state criminal record is the more prominent one, although if you’ve ever been charged with a federal crime, then you ought to worry about that one too.
When a potential employer, potential landlord, or or someone else runs a background check on you, they will be accessing both of these public criminal records. But what is included in these records?
All arrests and final judicial outcomes will appear on your criminal record, including domestic violence charges, even if your case was ultimately dropped or you were found guilty.
Domestic violence in Georgia can include any of the following criminal acts committed against a family member:
- battery or simple battery
- assault or simple assault
- criminal damage to property
- unlawful restraint
- criminal trespass
Although some misdemeanors won’t be included on your public criminal record, any charge serious enough to be considered domestic violence most likely will be.
Expungements and record restrictions
So if you’ve ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a domestic violence crime, it will show up on your criminal record when someone conducts a background check.
However, there is an option to get this information removed from your record. In the state of Georgia, under certain circumstances, you can apply for a record restriction.
If granted, this means that certain charges or convictions on your criminal record will be sealed from public access, and only law enforcement will be able to see them.
The terms “expungement” and “record restriction” are often used interchangeably. “Expungement” has a slightly different meaning, and actually isn’t possible in Georgia.
So the more correct term to use is “record restriction,” but if someone talks about expunging your records, they probably mean the same thing.
There are a few circumstances under which you may be eligible to have your record restricted in Georgia:
- You were acquitted by a jury
- Your case was dismissed after you were charged
- You completed a conditional discharge or first offender probation program as part of a plea
- You completed a drug rehabilitation or mental health program as part of a plea
- You were convicted as a juvenile (for certain crimes)
So, even if you were convicted of a domestic violence charge, you still might be able to get this conviction restricted from your record if you were a first offender or entered a conditional discharge.
Hire a defense attorney in Georgia today
If you think you might be eligible for a record restriction, or if you have been charged with domestic violence and you want to make sure you can have it restricted in the future, the best thing you can do is contact a criminal defense attorney.
Experienced defense attorneys like our team at the Frye Law Group will be able to walk you through the process and make sure you are getting the best outcome possible in your situation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.