Criminal Record Expungement in the State of Georgia

Introduction

In celebration of father’s who are trying to create a good life for their children but can use a second chance because of a prior, criminal mistake, the “Father’s Day Expungement Program” is taking place through June 16, 2019. Fulton County Solicitor’s Office is hosting the “Father’s Day Expungement Program”. The program will allow men to clear their record of misdemeanors.

Fulton County Solicitor, Keith E. Gammage, said in a statement, “As a father, I know how important it is to be able for fathers to provide for their families… This program, focused on fathers will allow men who have made a mistake to get a second chance and back on their feet so that they can lead their homes and communities.”

We here at RED applaud this effort, but also realize some men may not be able to take advantage of this opportunity, and they are also women with criminal records who are in need of getting their record expunged in the state of Georgia. So, we’ve created this post especially for you.

What is Expungement/Record Restriction?

An Expungement is a tool used to clear your record from either a conviction or dismissal. In so doing, after an expungement, a background check will not reveal either your dismissed charge(s) or a conviction. Law enforcement agencies will also destroy the records. Speaking frankly, it never happened.

It is important to note, the court adjudicating you not-guilty or dismissing a criminal charge still means you have a criminal record. Despite a court adjudicating you not-guilty, there will still be a record of the charge which can be found by any background check. What does that mean? An employer, housing authority, or anyone with a few dollars and a computer will be able to see you were once charged with a crime. In order to totally wipe-out a criminal charge, you must expunge the charge (The Windecher Firm: Practice Area – Expungement).

Why should you get your record expunged/record restricted?

Having a criminal record affects many facets of one’s life, from employment, higher education, housing, etc. These affects are not short-lived, in the state of Georgia they can last a lifetime because your criminal record does not go away, even long after you’ve resolved your conviction.

Studies have shown that:

  • Steady employment leads to a 62%reduction in recidivism among individuals with a record.
  • Fewer than 2%of people are re-convicted within five years of clearing their records.
  • A cleared record increases likelihood of employment by 11%and wages by 22% within the first year.
  • Record expungement leads to an average increase of $6,190in yearly income per individual.

The State of Georgia on Expungement/Record Restriction

Georgia has a narrow window and is behind most of the country when it comes to expungement. Georgia is in the minority of states where most convictions stay on your record for life. Georgia’s old law used the term “expungement, which implied that criminal records information was deleted or destroyed. In reality, criminal records were not deleted or destroyed; the term “expungement” simply meant that the information was unavailable to be viewed for all purposes except law enforcement and criminal justice.

Georgia’s new law, effective July 1, 2013, does not use the word “expungement.” Instead, the process is now referred to as “record restriction.” Only the name of the process has changed. Record restriction means that eligible records on your official criminal history report are restricted from public view and are only accessible to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes. The new law requires you file an action in superior court to restrict certain types of records (Georgia Justice Project: FAQ’s – Record Restriction).

What Cannot be Expunged/Record Restricted in the State of Georgia?

Simple answer: felonies. The state of Georgia’s current laws does not grant felony restrictions of any kind. Let me repeat, no felony convictions can be restricted in the state of Georgia. It does not matter the time since the conviction or the nature. Only thing individuals convicted of felonies can do is check and see if they’re eligible for a pardon from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Expungement Resources in the State of Georgia

Georgia Justice Project

Georgia Justice Project (GJP) is a nonprofit that represents and supports individuals in the criminal justice system. They do this through direct legal representation, policy advocacy, education and coalition building. Most of their served clients live in the City of Atlanta (55%) and neighboring DeKalb County (35%). GJP has been involved in the planning, coordination and implementation of a number of Record Restriction summits across the state of Georgia, serving over 5,000 people. Last fiscal year, GJP directly-assisted 560 clients with record restriction, sealing, pardons, and record corrections.

GJP also has a great Frequently Asked Questions section for Expungements on their website. Check it out here.

A Local, Criminal Defense Attorney

Getting an expungement and your record restricted is a complicated process and there a number of steps to understand and get perfect if you hope to be granted approval. If you are considering trying to clear your criminal record, an experienced legal professional can answer specific questions about your case and help you with the process. Consulting a local, criminal defense attorney on this matter is recommended. Failure to follow the record restriction process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time, sometimes extra years, before you can file again. An attorney can walk you through the process and help you with your expungement request from start to finish. You can find one and read reviews on the internet or through recommendations by friends and family. Or, if you’d like, our founder’s law firm, the Windecher Firm, specializes in Expungements. You can contact them here.

Conclusion

As an organization that understands the difficulties faced with rehabilitation and being granted a second chance, we want to give our readers who may need it the opportunity to find resources that may be of assistance. Unfortunately, Georgia current laws do not allow any expungement/record restriction for felonies. And felonies, not misdemeanors, are arguably the main barriers to gainful employment by rehabilitated citizens. From the post, you now know expungement/record restriction is not available to everyone, but if it applies to you, we encourage you to do it. It can help make many areas of your life that would be difficult with a criminal record much easier to navigate, and thus, increase your ability to be successful. And this is a great ting for not only you, but for your family as well.

Best of luck on your path to rehabilitation. We believe in you!

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