It is important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction and in Atlanta, under the current law, your criminal history depends on whether or not you are ultimately convicted for the crime. A conviction will determine what can be done about your Atlanta DUI arrest record, whether the arrest or case can be restricted from your official history, and whether an Atlanta DUI lawyer can reasonably petition a court to seal the clerk’s file to remove booking photos from the sheriff’s website.
In DUI and other misdemeanor cases, the fight is about the long-term effects of the case on the defendant’s future; it is not about the initial short-term pain of an arrest. Everything turns on whether or not the defendant is ultimately convicted under Georgia law. So, it is important for a defendant to hire an Atlanta DUI attorney who will fight for them and give them the best opportunity to avoid a conviction on their criminal record.
There are different types of records. The restriction of the Georgia official record in the Georgia Bureau of Investigations database is automatic. This has been true since the summer of 2013, when the Georgia Legislature passed a bill to automatically restrict records in certain cases.
If the defendant is not convicted—whether their charges are dismissed or they are found not guilty or otherwise—the charges are dropped and their official history is supposed to be restricted by law.
The clerk’s records however, are publicly available at the courthouse and also very commonly online. Those mugshots and booking photos available on the sheriff’s website were not affected by the change in Georgia law in summer 2013
As a result, it is important for a defendant in a DUI case to hire an attorney who will proactively attack the public availability of that information. An Atlanta DUI lawyer can attack and make an argument that the public benefit of these records being made available is outweighed by the prejudice the defendant will suffer as an individual, especially in terms of their employment prospects and the social impositions that are imposed on them by the public having access to these unfortunate pieces of information.
Georgia no longer uses the term expungement. After the law changed in July 2013, the term expungement no longer appears. Records restriction is the new phrase that is used in Georgia and it is somewhat different from expungement, but it is essentially the same thing. People use all those terms interchangeably: records restriction, records sealing, and expungement.
It all comes down to how the particular subsection of the law works in dealing with record restriction. To see how this may impact your record, schedule a consultation today.