First Offender Act

First Offender Act: Retroactive Treatment

Many people make mistakes in their youth.   For some of us, those mistakes went without tremendous consequence, but for others their mistakes cost them their freedom and labeled them a criminal for the rest of their lives.  Our firm has met with Georgia residents that have criminal histories that continue to haunt them and their career prospects.   Several people had heard about expunging their records from either the internet or friends.  Unfortunately, not everyone was eligible for expungment and, until recently, there wasn’t much we could do.  But now, with the passing of a new law, there is hope for some non-violent offenses to be removed from someone’s record with the use of the First Offender Act.

Traditionally, the First Offender Act is a tool that can be used in a plea deal for certain non-violent offenses like theft or drug charges.   The First Offender Act gives a probationer the opportunity to complete probation in exchange for having the Judge withhold adjudication and seal the probationer’s record.   The purpose of the act is to allow Georgia citizens the ability to not have one mistake ruin their lives.    Unfortunately, not everyone was aware of the First Offender Act and some individuals may have entered guilty pleas without really understanding the long term consequences of a criminal history.  The Georgia General Assembly recognized the problem and passed a new law that would allow some individuals to retroactively petition the court for treatment under the First Offender Act.

In order to have the First Offender Act apply retroactively the petitioner would have to file a petition with the court and obtain permission from the both the prosecutor and the Judge to apply the First Offender Act retroactively.   The Judge then is required to schedule a hearing where the petitioner can introduce evidence of the progress they have made after their earlier conviction.   If the Judge grants the petition, then the petitioner’s criminal history will be sealed in accordance to the First Offender Act.

We were excited to hear the news of this new provision of the First Offender Act.   If you have been convicted of a crime and feel that you may be eligible to have your record sealed, call our office immediately at 404-581-0999.   Our lawyers can help answer any questions you may have about the First Offender Act.