A criminal arrest and conviction can have long-lasting consequences. Because your arrest or conviction is public record, it can affect your ability to secure housing, find employment, or even apply for a loan.
Luckily, in Georgia, under certain circumstances, you can apply for a record restriction. This means that your records will be sealed from public access, so no one except law enforcement will be able to access it. In the past, this process was known as “expungement.”
Unfortunately, you will not be able to restrict your record in every case. At Frye Law Group in Marietta, we help citizens from all over Georgia determine whether their case is eligible and, if it is, help them obtain their expungement. Read on to learn some of the basics about what you can and can’t get restricted in the state of Georgia.
What is record restriction in Georgia?
Before 2013, Georgia used the term “expungement” to refer to the process of sealing off public records. On July 1, 2013, however, a new law went into effect altering the process altogether.
Now, expungements are referred to as “record restrictions.”
This terminology is more accurate, because the word “expungement” means that the records are destroyed entirely, which isn’t possible in Georgia. The effects of expungement and record restriction may be the same for the most part, but to avoid confusion, we use the updated terms in all cases.
As of 2013, if you get your record restricted for a certain indictment, or charge, all public record of that indictment will be removed. So potential employers, landlords, schools, and banks won’t be able to access your records– only law enforcement will be able to.
What criminal records are eligible for restriction in Georgia?
There are a few situations in which you may be eligible to have your records restricted:
- 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)
So there are some instances in which you can have your record restricted even if you were convicted— for example, if you were convicted as a juvenile. However, most record restrictions are done for arrests and indictments that were dismissed or never got to trial.
Can I still get my record restricted if I was charged with a felony?
For the most part, the type of crime you were charged with doesn’t matter. If you were acquitted, your case was dismissed, or you meet any of the other circumstances above, your record can be restricted.
However, for juvenile convictions, there are restrictions that forbid certain crimes from being restricted. These primarily include serious offenses like driving under the influence or sexual assault.
In addition, if you were charged with a felony but were later found guilty of a lower misdemeanor offense, it is up to the court to decide whether you can have the original felony charge restricted.
Contact a criminal defense attorney in Georgia today
If you think you might be eligible for record restriction, The Frye Law Group can help! It’s never too late to get that black mark scrubbed off your record, and open up your life to a whole new world of possibilities.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.