DeKalb County Expungement Lawyer

Having a criminal record can frustrate your future in many ways and affect your ability to obtain a job, education, apartment, mortgage, or professional license. Fortunately, there are options to clean up or conceal your public record, but you may need some legal assistance to do so. A DeKalb County expungement lawyer understands this ever-changing area of law and could help you pursue the best course of action for your situation.

Georgia Allows Records Restriction

In Georgia, expungement does not involve a complete purging of a person’s record. Instead, the law permits limiting public access to certain types of criminal histories. While employers, financial institutions, and landlords will no longer have access to restricted documents, court officials and law enforcement can still retrieve them.

Ideally, former offenders would like to see their entire record sealed. However, depending on the nature and number of charges, this may not be possible. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 35-3-37 outlines the process for sealing files and identifies eligible records and crimes.

Sealing Arrest and Other Non-conviction Records

An individual who is arrested but not convicted will still incur a criminal record that could undermine their future endeavors. O.C.G.A § 35-3-37(h) allows restricting this documentation if the case concluded in one of the following ways:

  • Prosecution did not move forward (no indictment or accusation filed)
  • Dismissal
  • Acquittal
  • Successful participation in a pre-trial diversion program
  • Completion of a court-ordered rehabilitation program

DeKalb County attorneys could help a person still facing the consequences of their arrest move on from their past by concealing their records from the public.

Addressing Convictions

Up until August 2020, Georgia did not allow the sealing of convictions. Amendments to O.C.G.A §§ 35-3-37(j)(4) & (6), found in Senate Bill 288, changed that. As of January 1, 2021, individuals may request that the public no longer obtain background information regarding misdemeanor crimes, with some exclusions, and a limited number of felonies.

These restrictions do not apply automatically. A person must receive a judge’s approval before their records become sealed. To obtain a judge’s order, those convicted of a misdemeanor must have completed their sentence and not committed another offense in the four years before filing the petition to restrict the records. Additionally, they must not have any other charges pending. Petitioners may block public access to a maximum of two misdemeanors.

For record restrictions to apply to a felony, the new language of O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(j)(6) establishes three requirements:

  • The State Board of Pardons and Paroles issued the offending party a pardon
  • The crime at issue did not involve serious violence or a sexual offense
  • The requesting individual has not committed any crime, except for minor traffic violations, since receiving the pardon

A criminal history follows you for the rest of your life unless you take steps to protect your record. An attorney who frequently appears in DeKalb County criminal courts may be able to help former offenders successfully navigate the expungement process and reclaim their futures.

Take Hold of Your Future with a DeKalb County Expungement Lawyer

Georgia has recently revised its public records law, but this latest update may not be the last. The trend is likely to continue, and it may be difficult to keep up with each development. If you have a record needing redress, reach out to a DeKalb County expungement lawyer to see how the law may apply to your circumstances, so you can move on with your life without your criminal history holding you back.