In the state of Georgia all records in accordance with incidents surrounding a crime can be erased. This includes the arrest record, trial records, and detention records. Before applying for expungement an individual will need to wait a designated amount of time since the arrest or the case's dismissal beforehand or show that there was no conviction. Under conviction an individual will need to show that he or she fulfilled the sentence, did not have any prior convictions, and is not involved currently in any criminal matters. The court will take the seriousness of the crime committed into consideration before making a decision. In some Georgia jurisdictions when a minor has committed a crime and becomes of adult age--seventeen or eighteen--he or she can have his or her records automatically expunged. This gives the individual the opportunity to have a clean adult record.
Expungement is the legal erasure of criminal records. After an expungement has been granted the public and law enforcement agencies will not be able to access the records, and it will appear that no conviction took place as stated under Georgia law. A person can then legally state that he or she was not accused of a crime or arrested. Against popular belief when a record is expunged and erased it is only removed figuratively. The record still exists and can be accessed by government officials if needed. An expunged record can be reopened in certain circumstances. After a record has been expunged, if the individual commits another criminal act, the erased record will most often reappear and be used as a prior conviction. When an individual runs for public office or applies to enter the United States military, all records--including expunged records--will be reviewed.
The records that may be destroyed include photographs, cards, fingerprints, and any documents in relation to the person. Any information that is not destroyed is held for constitutional reasons and will not be disclosed for any civil or law enforcement purpose unless ordered by the court. Custody records as kept by the county and municipal jail or detention center records cannot be expunged in the state of Georgia. DNA records for those with reversed convictions or with dismissed charges may be expunged.
Only some criminal cases are eligible for record expungement. These include juvenile records of non-adjudicated delinquents and charges that have been eliminated without a conviction without a crime conviction in the past five years. Those that are eligible may petition the appropriate law enforcement agencies in a written request. Upon reviewing a case, a petition for expungement can be denied if the paperwork was not completed correctly or it is not in the favor of the court. If a petition is denied, the individual may challenge the decision in court. Any individual who can show that his or her record is incomplete or inaccurate can apply for a petition. Those that have had charges nolled, dead-docketed, or dismissed due to a plea agreement may not apply for erasure. See also:
Georgia Misdemeanor External link (opens in new window)
Georgia Felony External link (opens in new window)
Georgia Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)