by Mary Agramonte
A felony conviction on your record comes with many consequences. You served the time, but now you are finding more and more ways that your record is stopping you from getting to where you want to be. For example, convicted felons lose various civil and political rights. Felons cannot vote while they are still incarcerated or on parole or probation. A convicted felon is unable to run for and hold public office or serve on a jury. Felons also cannot own or possess a firearm.
In Georgia, felons can apply to restore these civil rights that were lost at the time of their conviction. The right to vote is automatically restored upon completion of the sentence. However, if you are looking to restore your civil and political rights, a special application must be submitted asking the State of Georgia to allow you to serve on a jury and hold a public office. To be eligible to have your civil and political rights restored, you must have completed your sentence within two (2) years prior to applying, and you must demonstrate that you have been living a law-abiding life. There is no fee to apply to have your civil and political rights restored through the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
It is more difficult in Georgia to restore your firearm rights. In this instance, you must prove to the State you lived a crime-free life for a total of five (5) years after completing your sentence before applying. You will also need at least three character references. The State will not restore your gun rights if your offense involved the use or possession of a gun. Both of these applications take time and it typically takes around 9 months for a response from the State of Georgia.
If you are finding that your criminal history is following you, but that you are not eligible for Record Restriction, which is Georgia’s version of expungment, Georgia Record Restriction Blog
there may be a way for you to advance in your employment and education, despite the felony conviction on your record. In limited circumstances, the State of Georgia can pardon your offense, which is an official forgiveness granted to you. The pardon does not expunge or erase the crime from your record. However, a pardon will serve as an Official Statement attached to your criminal record that states the State of Georgia has pardoned, or forgiven, your crime. The State will make this decision based on the fact that you have maintained a good reputation after completing your sentence, and have truly changed your life after the conviction. Pardons have a better chance of being granted if there is clear proof that the felony is disallowing your qualification for employment in your chosen field. An official pardon will also automatically restore your civil and political rights. In order to apply for a pardon, you must have completed your sentence at least five years ago, and have not gotten into trouble at all in the last five years. All restitution must be paid in full by the time you apply. Letters of recommendation, school documents, resumes, and awards and certificates, are all helpful to show the State how important a pardon would be in your life.
There is no fee and the State uses the same application for restoring gun rights, restoring civil and political rights, and for pardons. The application can be found here: Restoration of Rights Application
Our law firm consists of seven criminal defense attorneys who represent individuals facing felony and misdemeanor charges in Georgia. We hope this information helps you restore your civil, political, or gun rights in Georgia. If you are currently facing criminal charges, our knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyers have what it takes to defend against the most serious offenses. Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.