In Georgia, a felony conviction can mean you forfeit certain civil rights, including the right to vote, hold office, and even own a gun. Many Americans hold these rights very dear, and unfortunately, felony convictions follow you for the rest of your life.
Luckily, in Georgia, there is a process to have your criminal records sealed from the public, as well as a process to have your rights fully restored.
However, just because you’ve had your record restricted doesn’t mean your rights have been restored. At Frye Law Group, we help Georgia citizens with both. Below is an explanation of what each of these processes entails, and how they are different from each other.
Record restriction in Georgia
Until 2013, the state of Georgia referred to the process as “expungement.” As of July 1, 2013, however, a new law went into effect that altered the process, and clarified that it is more accurately referred to as “record restriction.”
If you meet certain requirements, you can have all records of your arrest, charge, and in some cases even conviction sealed off from the public. This means that potential employers, landlords, or schools can’t see that you were ever arrested. The only people able to access these records would be law enforcement.
You may be eligible for record restriction if your situation meets any of the following requirements:
- You were acquitted by a jury
- Your case was dismissed after you were indicted (or 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)
Record restriction is a complicated but extremely helpful process. If you think you meet any of these requirements, reach out to a criminal defense attorney to help you through the process.
Restoration of rights
So let’s say you were convicted of a felony and you lost your right to own a firearm, but you later got your record restricted. Does that mean your rights have been restored?
The short answer is no. Restoration of rights is a separate process that is handled by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
After you’ve been pardoned or had your record expunged, you can apply for a Restoration of Civil and Political Rights. If this application is approved, you will be restored to full citizenship, with the right to vote, hold office, etc.
But you still won’t be able to own firearms. The Restoration of Firearm Rights is a separate process altogether, with a separate application process. Like with record restriction, this is a complicated process, and it’s not always clear to the applicant exactly what requirements they need to meet to have their rights restored.
That’s why we recommend hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who can walk you through the process and make sure you have your full rights restored.
Contact Frye Law Group in Georgia today
Just because you made a mistake in the past doesn’t mean you should be denied your rights today.
The Frye Law Firm can help you get all your rights restored, and make sure that you’re not being held back by the past. Contact us today for a free consultation.