Expungement Lawyers in Georgia
Record Restriction in Cobb County, GA
We all make mistakes. But when you’re charged with a crime, it can feel like your life has turned upside down. Our team represents those in Cobb, Bartow, Cherokee, Fulton, Paulding, and Douglas Counties.
And even if your case has been dismissed or you plead guilty as a first-time offender, that charge can follow you around for the rest of your life. You could face barriers to employment, education, and even housing.
Luckily, there is a process to prohibit public access to the specific criminal records regarding your case. Known as expungement in some places, Georgia law refers to this process as record restriction.
Record Restrictions / Expungements in Georgia
Getting your record restricted in Georgia is the same thing as getting it expunged. Because the term “expunged” suggests that your record would be completely removed or destroyed, Georgia changed the term in 2013. However, nothing about the process changed.
Record restriction simply means that you can get the records on your official criminal history report restricted from public view. In this case, they’ll only be accessible to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes. Unfortunately, this process does not happen automatically, and records can only be restricted if you and your situation qualify.
In August of 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp expanded access to restriction and sealing of convictions in Georgia, allowing people the opportunity to restrict certain convictions after a period of time. The new law allows an individual to petition the court to restrict and seal up to two misdemeanor convictions from their record and almost any offense that has been pardoned from their criminal history.
It’s important to note that you can’t have your entire criminal history restricted. Instead, you’ll need to apply for each eligible arrest to be restricted individually.
How to Know if You Qualify for a Record RestrictionThere are three main categories that allow for record restriction in Georgia:
With some exceptions (serious traffic offenses, child molestation, etc.), certain misdemeanor charges that occur before the offender turns 21 are eligible for restriction. There are certain elements that you and your case must meet to qualify, however. These include:
- You must have successfully completed your sentence
- In the five years prior to your request, you cannot have been charged with an offense (other than minor traffic offenses)
Cases that do not result in a conviction almost always qualify for restriction. This can include:
- Cases that are closed by law enforcement
- Cases that are dismissed
- Cases placed on the “dead docket” (postponed indefinitely)
- Cases not presented to a grand jury
- Cases that are found “not guilty”
- Convictions that are reversed
Again, however, there are some exceptions, including:
- If you plead guilty to another charge in the same case
- The prosecution in your case was not able to present evidence against you
- The prosecution in your case convinces the court not to restrict your charges
- Your case involved jury tampering or judicial misconduct
- You had immunity
Felony Charges, but Convicted of Unrelated Misdemeanor
Courts consider restricting your record if you were charged with a felony but not convicted, and instead convicted of some other, unrelated misdemeanor. If you were convicted of a lesser offense related to the felony charge, however, your case does not qualify for restriction.
Charges that Can and Cannot Be Restricted
Generally speaking, most misdemeanor offenses can be restricted if the petitioner meets all the requirements stated above. Felony charges are more complicated, and you must first obtain a pardon before you file your petition for restriction. It might be simpler to discuss charges that cannot be restricted in Georgia law. 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
Contact Our Team of Record Restriction Lawyers
Not sure if your case qualifies for restriction? Did your case happen a long time ago and you need help finding the details? Our seasoned legal team is ready and willing to help you do the work to discover if you’re eligible for record restriction and help you get your record clean.
Call our Marietta office at (770) 637-4555 or use the online contact form.
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