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Which offenses can be eligible for expungement?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Expungement, or record restriction, is a legal procedure in Georgia. It can help make certain criminal records invisible to the public. This can benefit people wanting to move beyond past mistakes without a criminal record affecting things like job applications, housing opportunities or applying for certain licenses.

However, it’s important to know that not all offenses are expungable. Under Georgia law, certain crimes are more likely to qualify.

Minor offenses and cases without a conviction

Minor offenses and cases that didn’t lead to a conviction often qualify for expungement. These offenses can include dismissed charges, acquittals or cases that weren’t prosecuted.

First-time offenses

Georgia’s “First Offender Act” allows some first-time offenders to restrict their records. But they must first complete their sentence terms. This act can expunge some offenses, including certain drug charges.

Juvenile offenses

Expungement is often more lenient for juvenile offenses. This acknowledges that young people should be able to move forward without a permanent criminal record for past mistakes. Many juvenile records are automatically restricted when the individual turns 21. But that only applies to individuals who haven’t committed another offense. However, it’s different for serious charges such as violent or sexual offenses. Those might be ineligible for automatic restriction.

Successful completion of treatment programs

People who finish specific treatment programs may qualify for record restriction. Such programs can include drug court, mental health or veterans’ treatment programs. Eligibility is possible if the court dismissed or did not prosecute their case and they had no arrests during the program. Notably, minor traffic violations during the program do not affect eligibility.

Expungement dependent on case specifics

The chance for expungement in Georgia depends on the specifics of an individual’s case. To make this determination, the prosecuting attorney will review each case to decide whether expungement is an option. Individuals who need help with expungement can initiate the process with the state of Georgia, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.