Expungement in Georgia

Conoscienti & Ledbetter

Trusted criminal defense lawyer

Explore the path to a clean slate with Conoscienti and Ledbetter’s guide to expungement in Georgia. Learn about eligibility, the process, and how we can help reclaim your future.

Blake Ledbetter Atlanta AttorneyAuthor: J. Blake Ledbetter, Partner, Conoscienti & Ledbetter

Mr. Ledbetter specializes in civil litigation in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, and possesses vast experience in wrongful death lawsuits. Mr. Ledbetter was recognized as a SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2018 and 2019 in the area of Civil Litigation. Published on December 21, 2023.

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Understanding Expungement in the State of Georgia

Expungement, also called record restriction, is a vital process that can significantly impact your future. It involves limiting access to your criminal history and potentially destroying or deleting those records. However, it’s important to note that while this process partially erases information, it predominantly restricts public visibility.

This article thoroughly explains Georgia’s expungement process, including its implications, procedural steps, and potential outcomes. By gaining valuable knowledge and guidance, you can navigate this process successfully, whether for employment, education, or other personal reasons.

At Conoscienti and Ledbetter, our commitment is to guide individuals like yourself through the intricacies of expungement in Georgia. Our experienced legal professionals are ready to provide the necessary support and guidance throughout this journey.

Understanding Georgia’s Expungement Laws

Expungement is a legal avenue that allows a court to restrict public access to an individual’s criminal history. It seals court records related to a criminal conviction, protecting them from public scrutiny. Given that a criminal or arrest record can significantly impact employment, education, housing, and personal growth opportunities, a court-ordered expungement of certain convictions becomes a pivotal tool for a fresh start.

It’s important to note that expungement does not delete the information but rather restricts it from public view. Only law enforcement officers can access your criminal record for criminal justice purposes. Furthermore, it’s crucial to understand that expungement applies only to certain criminal records and requires a judge or court order. 

Eligibility Criteria for Expungement in Georgia

According to Georgia law OCGA § 35-3-37 (d), record restriction may be granted if no criminal charges are pending and the individual has not been convicted within the last five years. To be eligible for record restriction in Georgia, one must have completed their sentence, including probation or parole, without incurring new convictions. 

According to the 2012 revision of Georgia’s expungement law (House Bill 1176), the general waiting period for record restriction is two years after completing the sentence for most offenses. Following this period, misdemeanors with no disposition are expunged, while felonies with no disposition are expunged after four years. More severe felonies, such as violent felonies or violent sexual felonies with no disposition, are expunged after seven years.

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Types of Offenses Eligible for Expungement

Expungement eligibility depends on various factors, such as the offense’s severity and an individual’s criminal record. While expungement is generally available for most misdemeanor convictions, there’s a cap of two separate misdemeanor convictions that can be expunged.

However, certain serious misdemeanor convictions, including DUIs, child molestation and abuse, and sexual battery, are ineligible for expungement under the new law. Additionally, the new law excludes felonies like rape, murder or felony murder, aggravated child molestation, sodomy, sexual battery, and armed robbery from the list of offenses eligible for expungement.

Despite these restrictions, expunging many felony convictions is still possible by following additional court steps. At Conoscienti and Ledbetter, our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers in Atlanta can guide you throughout this process. It is important to note that record restrictions apply to each charge individually. Therefore, if you have multiple charges, each one can be addressed separately. 

Importantly, you may be eligible for record restriction if:

  • Charges against you were dropped or dismissed, especially in false imprisonment cases.

  • You are a first-time felony offender (which may apply to certain serious misdemeanors).

  • You went to trial and received a not-guilty verdict.

Considering these, it is vital to consult with a legal professional to assess your eligibility for expungement and understand the steps involved in the process.  

The Expungement Process in Georgia

In Georgia, criminal records can be automatically restricted or restricted by petition. Automatic restriction applies in cases like dismissal, two no bills returned by the grand jury, sentencing under conditional discharge, or completion of a treatment program. However, it is essential to note that this automatic restriction may be temporary.

If you do not have your conviction restricted automatically, filing a petition with the appropriate court becomes necessary. When filing your petition in the appropriate court, it is crucial to serve copies to all relevant agencies. A comprehensive petition should include:

  • The Offender Tracking Number (OTN) for the specific charge you want to have your record restricted.

  • A copy of the final disposition from the previous case.

  • Evidence demonstrating the harm caused by your criminal record, such as obstacles in obtaining housing or employment, outweighs the public interest in publicly making the criminal history record information available.

  • A Draft Order.

  • The filing fee, a petition to waive the fee, and an indigency affidavit.

To successfully navigate the complex process of petitioning for record restriction and minimize the potential consequences of an unsuccessful attempt, it’s crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. For instance, knowing Georgia’s sex offender laws inside out is essential when it comes to dealing with sex crimes and determining expungement eligibility.

At Conoscienti and Ledbetter, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients navigate Georgia’s intricate expungement process. We can assist you in gathering all the necessary documentation, filing accurate petitions, and advocating for your rights.

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    Benefits of Having Your Criminal Record Expunged

    Expungement and Access to Opportunities

    Expungement in Georgia opens avenues for individuals with a criminal record, dismantling restrictions and granting access to housing, employment, and other opportunities. By concealing your criminal record from most employers and landlords, expungement becomes a catalyst for pursuing aspirations and personal progress.

    Restoration of Civil Rights and Privileges

    Expungement plays a pivotal role in restoring civil rights and privileges. These rights include voting, serving on a jury, and even owning a firearm. Reclaiming these privileges gives you a real sense of freedom and empowerment. Restoring civil rights is a big step towards achieving social and political inclusion.

    A Fresh Start and New Opportunities

    In essence, expungement of felony conviction offers a fresh start and unveils new possibilities. It removes barriers imposed by a criminal record, enabling individuals to pursue their dreams wholeheartedly. If you bear the weight of a criminal record in Georgia, it is worth exploring the merits of expungement and its transformative impact on your life.

    Seize Your Second Chance: Consult a Legal Professional Today

    A criminal record in Georgia need not condemn you to a life of restrictions. Expungement holds the potential to transform lives and offer a second chance. However, successfully navigating the complex process of expungement requires experience and precision. That’s where our team at Conoscienti and Ledbetter comes in. 

    We set ourselves apart from the rest with our extensive experience handling expungement cases, unwavering dedication to client success, and comprehensive support and guidance. We take a personalized approach to each case, comprehensively addressing your unique requirements and circumstances. 

    By choosing Conoscienti and Ledbetter, you’re choosing a partner in your journey toward a fresh start. Don’t let your past determine your future. Schedule a consultation today and seize your second chance.

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