Expungement in Georgia
In Georgia, all records pertaining to incidents surrounding a crime can be erased. This includes the arrest and trial records, as well as the detention records. Before applying for expungement, an individual must either wait a specified amount of time since the arrest or show that there was no conviction. Under conviction, an individual must demonstrate that he or she served the sentence, had no prior convictions, and is not currently involved in any criminal matters.
Before making a decision, the court will consider the gravity of the crime committed. When a minor commits a crime and reaches the age of adulthood (seventeen or eighteen) in some Georgia jurisdictions, his or her records are automatically expunged. This enables the individual to have a clean adult record.
The legal erasure of criminal records is known as expungement. Following an expungement, the public and law enforcement agencies will be unable to access the records, and it will appear that no conviction occurred, as required by Georgia law. A person can then legally claim that he or she was not arrested or charged with a crime.
Contrary to popular belief, when a record is expunged or erased, it is only figuratively removed. The record still exists and government officials can access it if necessary. In certain circumstances, an expunged record can be reopened. If an individual commits another criminal act after having their record expunged, the erased record will most likely reappear and be used as a prior conviction. When a person runs for public office or applies to join the US military, all records, including expunged records, are reviewed.
Photographs, cards, fingerprints, and any documents pertaining to the individual may be destroyed. Any information that is not destroyed is kept for constitutional reasons and will not be disclosed for any civil or law enforcement purpose unless the court orders it.
Custody records kept by the county, as well as municipal jail or detention center records, cannot be expunged in Georgia. DNA records for those who have had their convictions overturned or charges dropped may be expunged.
Eligibility for Expungement
Only certain types of criminal cases are eligible for record expungement. These include juvenile records of non-adjudicated delinquents and charges that have been dropped without a conviction in the last five years. Those who qualify may submit a written request to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
When a case is reviewed, a petition for expungement may be denied if the paperwork was not completed correctly or if the case is not in the court’s favor. If a petition is denied, the individual may file a legal challenge. Any person who can demonstrate that his or her record is incomplete or inaccurate may file a petition. Those who have had charges dropped, dead-docked, or dismissed as a result of a plea agreement are not eligible for erasure.