The First Offender Act is a progressive statute implemented by the State of Georgia where a person who has never been convicted of a prior felony offense can be sentenced on a pending charge, but subsequently, have those charges sealed by the court if he/she successfully completes their First Offender sentence.
According to O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60, the accused may be eligible under the First Offender Act if the following statements are true:
- The accused has never been convicted of a felony;
- The accused have never been previously sentenced under the First Offender Act;
- The offense charged is not a serious crime committed against a law enforcement officer engaged in his/her duties;
- The offense charged is not Driving Under the Influence (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391);
- The offense charged is not a serious violent felony (O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.1);
- The offense charged is not a serious sexual offense (O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.2);
- The offense charged is not related to child pornography (O.C.G.A. § 17-10-100.2);
- The offense charged is not related to electronic sexual exploitation of a minor, computer pornography (O.C.G.A. § 17-10-100);
- The offense charged is not trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude (O.C.G.A. § 16-5-46); and
- The offense charged is not neglecting disabled adults or elderly people (O.C.G.A. § 16-5-101).
HOW IT WORKS
Trial counsel for the accused must ask the judge to sentence him/her under the First Offender Act. Then, the judge will consider whether to sentence the accused to First Offender after he/she hears arguments from both the prosecution and the defense. If the judge sentences the accused under First Offender, his/her official criminal history will describe the disposition of the crime charged as “First Offender” until the sentencing term is successfully completed. If the accused violates any conditions placed on him/her during their term of sentence, including committing another crime, the judge has the discretion to revoke the First Offender status. This means that the accused will be sentenced and convicted, which will be shown on his/her official criminal history. In revoking one’s status, the judge does have discretion to sentence the accused to the maximum penalty for the crime charged. However, if the term of sentence is successfully completed, the clerk of court will seal the offense charged from his/her official criminal history.
At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our attorneys are knowledgeable about the consequences of a criminal conviction on one’s record, as well as all possible options for our clients dealing with pending allegations. Therefore, if you have been recently arrested on a criminal charge or your case is currently pending, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.