Georgia Expungement FAQ

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An expungement is a court-ordered process that restricts the public’s access to criminal history on your official background report and seals a criminal conviction court record from public view. Although a criminal record can seriously harm employment, education, housing, and other vital opportunities necessary to advance in life, a court order of expungement clears a person’s criminal record for purposes of private background checks, employers, and real property leasing applications, as well as most government agencies in the employment process. Expungement is limited to certain types of criminal records, however, and must be ordered by a judge or court. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding expungement in Georgia.

Who is Eligible for an Expungement?

Not all criminal records can be restricted in the state of Georgia. Generally, arrest and court records where the charges were dismissed are eligible for expungement. Only certain convictions can qualify for an expungement. Eligibility depends on a wide range of factors such as the severity of the crime, other criminal history, and more.  Most misdemeanor convictions are eligible for expungement, but an individual can seek expungement for a maximum of two separate misdemeanor convictions.  Serious Felony convictions such as armed robbery and aggravated stalking are not eligible for expungement.  Many felony convictions, however, can be expunged with additional steps through the courts. Our expungement lawyers can advise on a case-by-case basis and are skilled at making certain filings, which can make expungement available for an otherwise ineligible record. All record restrictions are charge-specific – meaning that if you have more than one charge, each charge can be addressed independently. You may qualify for restriction if any of the following apply:

  • Charges against you were dropped or dismissed
  • You are a first-time felony offender (can apply to certain serious misdemeanors)
  • You went to trial, which resulted in a not guilty verdict
  • You completed probation on a misdemeanor conviction and have not been convicted of another offense within the preceding 4 years

What Are the Steps in the Expungement Process?

To file for expungement in Georgia, you must do the following:

  • File a petition in court requesting expungement of your arrest, jail, and court record based on the specific law that makes the charge or conviction eligible for expungement
  • Provide evidence in support of the petition establishing that the record’s harm to your particular circumstances outweighs the public’s interest in having access to the record
  • Obtain an order from the presiding judge requiring both restriction and sealing
  • Contact the court clerk, arresting law enforcement agency and jail where you were held to ensure and confirm compliance with the court’s order

* Restriction alone is sometimes available without a court order, but without a court-ordered sealing, the court records and any information relating to your case such as arrest and jail records, remain available to the public.  See “Should I Get a Restriction or Expungement” below.

Our Expungement Lawyers have obtained expungements across Georgia on hundreds of cases and manage the process.

Should I Get a Restriction or Expungement?

The primary difference between a restriction and an expungement is that an expungement completely eliminates the public’s access to your arrest and court record. Restriction of a criminal record only removes it from your official Georgia and federal criminal history report.  The court file remains available to the public; in fact, many court clerk websites publish case information relating to records that have been restricted but not sealed. Without obtaining a court order to seal, the court files, including any arrest records in the file, remain available to the public.  As a result, a restricted but unsealed record is still likely to appear on a private party background check for employment and real property leasing applications.

What Misdemeanors and Felonies Are Ineligible for Restriction?

Some of the misdemeanors and felonies that the Georgia Justice Project labels as ineligible for record restriction include:

Key Excluded Misdemeanor Offenses

Excluded Felony Offenses

  • Murder or Felony Murder
  • Armed robbery
  • Rape
  • Aggravated sexual battery and aggravated sodomy
  • Aggravated child molestation

Have More Questions? Contact Us

If you are unsure about your situation, it is best to contact an expungement lawyer today. The attorneys at Yates & Wheland are dedicated to helping anyone with legal matters. Contact us today for a case consultation.