Expunging/Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Georgia: Eligibility
In Georgia, you are eligible to have your criminal history record expunged if you can meet one (1) of the following three (3) criteria:
- You can show the court that your record is not accurate or complete
- You have no charges currently pending against you, AND
- You have not been arrested for any other offense anywhere in the United States in the last five years, AND
- For the offense you want expunged:
- You were arrested but were released by the arresting agency (e.g. - state police) without ever being prosecuted,
- OR the government's prosecuting attorney dismissed the charges without filing an accusation or seeking an indictment
- You were charged as a juvenile and:
- A petition alleging delinquency is not filed, OR
- The proceedings were dismissed after:
- A petition was filed or
- The case was transferred to the juvenile court OR
- You were adjudicated not to be delinquent
If the prosecutor determines that you have met one of these criteria, then you generally have the right to have your record expunged. However, the situation is not that simple in Georgia: there are exceptions to all of these conditions. Specifically, you will not be eligible for expungement if an indictment or accusation was filed and the charges were nolle prossed (formally abandoned by the prosecutor), dead docketed, or otherwise dismissed because:
- You entered into a plea agreement for an offense that led to your conviction,
- The government was barred (for any reason) from introducing material evidence,
- A material witness who was legally obligated to testify in your case did not testify for some reason,
- You were incarcerated based on other criminal charges which the prosecutor decided not to pursue in order to preserve judicial resources (e.g. – the court was too busy),
- You entered and successfully completed a pretrial diversion program whose terms did not explicitly allow for expungement,
- The conduct that led to your arrest was part of a pattern of criminal activity which was prosecuted elsewhere in the United States, or
- You had immunity (of any kind) or some other inviolability from arrest or prosecution.
Also note that DUI records, sex crimes and traffic infractions cannot be expunged from your record. DUI records are generally present for life, crimes resulting in sex offender registrations create a separate record (the registry itself) which is permanent, and traffic infractions are not crimes (like felonies and misdemeanors)….none of these can be expunged in Georgia. Of course, some laws do change, so always check with the clerk of the court where you are seeking expungement to be sure you have the most up-to-date information.
As you can see, these eligibility rules for the legal tool of expungement are designed to keep the tool available for those who are in fact innocent of the crime they were charged with. If your case is not completely cut and dry (most aren't – otherwise there probably wouldn't have been an arrest!), you should consider using the services of a qualified Virginia criminal history record lawyer.
Consequences: If your expungement is granted, then your records will be purged from the arresting agency's database. This includes fingerprint cards, photographs, and any documents that relate solely to you. Any material that can't be physically destroyed or that must be preserved for other reasons will be held on restricted access and can't be disclosed to anyone. The Georgia Crime Information Center, in particular, will be notified of the expungement and directed to restrict access to any criminal history records relating to you and the expunged charge. Only the government's criminal justice officials will have access to the records, for investigative purposes or other law enforcement necessities (i.e. – if you ever get arrested again, this information can still be used against you).
For more information on Georgia criminal history record expungements, see the following articles:
- Overview of Georgia Criminal History Record Expungement
- Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Georgia
- Expunging Juvenile Adjudication Records in Georgia
- Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge My Criminal Record in Georgia?