If you or someone you know has a history containing a criminal conviction, it can have a significant effect on their life. Not only can it limit job prospects, but when people know you’ve been convicted of a serious offense, it can change their perception of you.
This is where expungement and Georgia’s laws on record restriction may be able to help the defendant get back on their feet. It can be a complicated process that is challenging to accomplish without legal help and representation, however, but when finished it can be well worth the time and effort.
At the Frye Law Group in Marietta, our experienced defense attorneys are passionate about helping clients get their records expunged because we know that everyone makes mistakes. If you think Georgia’s new expungement law may apply to you, keep reading.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a specific legal process that allows someone previously convicted of a crime, to have that conviction removed from their criminal record.
In Georgia, this is known as “record restriction,” as the term “expungement” can lead to the erroneous belief that the record or records are destroyed when they aren’t.
The term record restriction is considered a more accurate term. If the request for record restriction is granted, the access to the specified record is restricted to such a degree that only certain entities can see it going forward. These entities are generally previously authorized personnel such as those working for government agencies or law enforcement.
When looking to pursue an expungement, the wisest course of action, in the beginning, is to work with an experienced expungement lawyer. The right criminal attorney will be able to clearly outline the requirements for restricting your record and can get the process started for you.
Georgia’s Record Restriction Law
The Georgia state code authorizes and regulates the process for record restriction.
The process will depend on the date that the arrest originally occurred. Arrests that happened before July 1, 2013, require that the defendant applies for the restriction from the arresting agency.
For arrests that happened after July 1, 2013, there is no formal application process and the prosecutor will have the authority to decide if a restriction is proper in the context of the case.
What charges qualify for record restriction?
Not all charges qualify, but it does allow an individual to petition the court to restrict and seal:
- Up to two misdemeanor convictions
- Almost any offense (felony or misdemeanor) that has been pardoned
What charges do not qualify?
In Georgia, there are certain charges that cannot be restricted, even under SB 288. These include:
- Sex crimes against children / by people with supervisory authority
- Pimping and pandering
- Crimes against minors
- Sexual battery
- Peeping tom crimes
- Family violence battery convictions (unless the offender was under 21)
- Child molestation
- Public indecency
- Obstructing or hindering persons making emergency telephone call
- Certain theft cases
- Certain DUI cases
- Armed robbery
- Rape and statutory
- Child molestation and aggravated child molestation
- Sodomy and aggravated sodomy
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Aggravated assault with the intent to rape
- False imprisonment
- Enticing a child for indecent purposes
- Sexual assault against persons in custody
- Sexual exploitation of children
There are several exceptions to these rules, as well. Immunity in a criminal case would preclude restriction, as well as involvement in offenses of a similar nature in a different jurisdiction. Restrictions may also not be available for juvenile offenders that commit serious or capital offenses.
How Will Record Restriction Affect Me?
Since record restriction or expungement is not a removal of the charge – nor is it a pardon or official forgiveness for the crime – it will still be part of your official criminal record as seen from the perspective of a government agency.
The record is only removed from publicly-accessible records collections, and the court may treat the offense as if it had never occurred. It can still be used as a prior aggravating offense if you get arrested on a new charge.
While an expungement will remove the court record and public information regarding your conviction, it is important to remember that all other public mentions of the incident, crime, trial, and conviction will remain.
Mentions in social media will persist, and search engine results may also produce previously restricted or expunged information. Additional steps are needed to remove these mentions from the public.
Working With An Expungement Lawyer at Frye Law Group
Record restriction is an important first step toward helping increase opportunities for people with a criminal record. If you think your case qualifies for restriction, get in touch with Attorney Kim Frye today. Kim Frye helps clients from all over Georgia with their criminal cases, and she is determined to help you. Contact the Frye Law Group today.