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In Georgia, getting a second chance just became simpler. Effective on July 1, 2013, new revisions and changes to the law that outlines expungement and restriction in the state of Georgia can potentially help those who wish to put their past behind them. With this new amendment, those with records may find they are now eligible for an expungement that they previously could not achieve or their cases can now be eligible for a process called “record restrictions.”

The old system of expungement did not allow for many cases to be eligible for the procedure. Prior to the July 1st changes, expungements were only available in instances where there was no conviction, the case was dismissed, or the case was not prosecuted. However, even if a case is dismissed under the old system, it was possible for a case to remain without any information on the status. Essentially, there is nothing on file to show whether the case is dismissed or is active. Therefore, a record of arrest stays within the system of the Georgia Crime Information Center.

Various cases, under the old law, were not eligible for expungement. Some of these instances included:

  1. Cases that were treated by the First Offender’s Act. If the case was sentenced under the First Offender’s Act and all terms of sentence were successfully completed, then the court discharged the case with no conviction and removed it from criminal history.
  2. Guilty plea or no plea was considered a conviction and therefore was not eligible.
  3. Acquittals.

Regardless of how old the conviction was, it was not eligible for expungement in the state of Georgia. Generally, expungement eligibility was found only in cases where an error was made in the arrest process.

Under this new legislation, many formerly ineligible cases for Georgia expungement became eligible for record restriction. Records restriction is an edit to the expungement law. Essentially, certain cases are not erased or destroyed, but can be “restricted.” The record or arrest is hidden from view during employment and licensing background checks.

Cases that are eligible for Records Restrictions include:

  1. Misdemeanors with no court disposition after two years will automatically be restricted.
  2. Felonies after four years with no court disposition will automatically restricted.
  3. Violent felonies and sexual felonies will be restricted with no disposition after seven years.
  4. Acquittals, despite being tried in court, are now eligible for restriction.
  5. Convictions treated and sentenced under the aforementioned First Offender’s Act is now also available for restriction.

Police officers and prosecutors will still be able to view the records and arrests will still exist if the person applies for a job in the criminal justice system.

Applications are still necessary in some instances when the restriction will not automatically occur. Some requests for restriction must still be reviewed including arrests for charges that were dismissed and in cases where the person is found not guilty.

Under the new law, DUIs, reckless driving, aggressive driving, and other serious traffic offenses are not eligible for Georgia expungement or record restriction.

Written by Record Clearing

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