In the state of Georgia, misdemeanor charges can be expunged at the discretion of a prosecuting attorney as long as certain criteria are met. Expungement is an older term replaced in current court records as a "record restriction." Generally, the misdemeanor must be a juvenile crime or your first and only offense.
What is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor consists of any crime that is not a felony. In Georgia, misdemeanor offenses can carry a sentence of up to 12 months in jail and as much as $1,000 in fees. Some common misdemeanors include traffic offenses, trespassing, minor theft, vandalism and resisting arrest. Having a misdemeanor on your record can bring unwelcome consequences when applying for work, filing an application for a housing rental, or in any other type of situation where a background check is required.
Who is Eligibility for Expungement?
If you were charged but not prosecuted, your record will be restricted automatically after a waiting period of two years for misdemeanors. You do not have to do anything.
You are also eligible for expungement if you can demonstrate the record is inaccurate. If it is your only offense over the past five years, you are also eligible. Juvenile charges where delinquency wasn't filed or was transferred to juvenile court are eligible. Eligibility doesn't guarantee the record will get approved for expungement.
You are not eligible if an indictment or filed accusations were dismissed or entered into a plea deal. Certain actions such as driving under the influence, sex crimes and traffic infractions are not eligible for expungement. In addition, Georgia does not allow for your entire criminal history to be expunged: you must apply separately for each eligible offense. If you are uncertain about eligibility, contact the prosecuting court to get more information.
What is the Process for Expungement?
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Criminal History website has a criminal history search. Contact information center to get a copy of your own history so you know exactly what is on your record. Download and print the "Instructions for Request to Expunge Arresting Records" forms. Note that there will be three forms in all. It lists the conditions that need to be met to start the expungement process, as well as the address and fees associated with filing for expungement. Complete the first section in its entirety.
In addition to your own personal information, you will need the arresting agency's address. Keep in mind that the second section is completed by the arresting agency once you have submitted your application. The arresting agency then forwards your forms to a prosecuting attorney, who either approves or denies your request for expungement.
Status of Expunging Record
Wait for your results. If you're approved, the arresting agency may return your approved request form and fee to you, or automatically forward your approved form and fee to the Georgia Crime Information Center. Mail your approved form and fee to the Georgia Crime Information Center if the form is returned to you. Be mindful that the Georgia Crime Scene Unit's address is located on the first page of the "Instructions for Request to Expunge Arrest Records." To check the status of your request, call the Georgia Crime Information Center at 404-244-2639 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read More: How to Expunge Your Record in Georgia
What's the Effect of Expungement?
Having your record expunged or restricted means the information is sealed and becomes unavailable to be viewed by the public. In other words, potential employers will not be able to access the records. Law enforcement and people involved in the criminal justice system will still be able to view your record, however.
Leigh Egan, a professional writer since 2000, has vast experience within academic research, journalism and web writing. She has written for Lifetips.com and various other websites, and works as a staff writer and a freelance journalist. Egan majored in English at Kennesaw State University and holds a certification in creative writing and grant writing.