by Mary Agramonte
We know how hard it is to rebuild your life when you have a criminal history following you. In Georgia, your complete criminal history is released for employment and licensing purposes, no matter how long ago you were arrested, unless your record is restricted or sealed. If you have recently been arrested and just want a second chance, Georgia has several options available. These options allow certain individuals who have been arrested to avoid having potential employers see their criminal record. Even if you were arrested in the past, you may be eligible to have your record restricted or sealed from people being able to access it.
Under Georgia’s Record Restriction law, O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37, you may be qualified to hide your arrest record from potential employers. This is available for you if your case was dismissed, not presented to a grand jury, twice no-billed by the grand jury, or if you had a trial and were found not guilty on each and every charge. If you were arrested after July 1, 2013, your record is automatically restricted, meaning your official Georgia criminal history report (GCIC) will not be released to any employers or licensing boards. If you were arrested prior to July 1, 2013, and your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty on every charge, then you will need to apply to have your record restricted on your official criminal history report.
However, even if your record is restricted, your court records will remain in the clerk’s office as public records. Unfortunately, many employers do not use official background checks through GCIC. Instead, they use private companies. If your record is restricted, there is an additional step that is not automatic that can protect you and your criminal history from finding its way onto the internet and into the hands of potential employers. This process is known as petitioning the court to seal your records and can also be found under O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(m).
There is another new and exciting law in place that truly helps individuals who have struggled with getting jobs over the years based on a conviction in their past. This is known as the Retroactive First Offender statute. To qualify, you must have been eligible for First Offender treatment, yet were not informed of it, and the prosecuting attorney must consent. If you were convicted of the crime or pled guilty to it in the past, Georgia only allows for record restriction if you are eligible under the Retroactive First Offender Statute.
We are experienced lawyers here to help. We know how hard it is to move on with your life when you have an arrest record or conviction holding you back. There are laws in place that help past offenders clean up their record and move on once and for all. If this is a new arrest, there are also several avenues to take if you are concerned about your criminal history and how it’s going to affect your career and your future. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a FREE CONSULTATION to see how we can help with your criminal record.