Just because a person has been charged with a crime does not mean that this charge needs to remain on their criminal record forever. In some situations, where a person was charged but not convicted of a crime, people may apply to have their records cleared.
In some very limited circumstances, even convictions may be cleared from a person’s record. Cherokee County expungement lawyers could work with people to evaluate their criminal records. Contact a skilled criminal attorney can help you determine if they are eligible for this program and if so, help you to apply for the expungement.
Expungement Processes in Georgia
In July of 2013, Georgia introduced a new process for expunging peoples’ criminal records. In fact, the term expungement no longer applies. Instead, the process has been renamed record restriction. This is because the criminal records are never completely cleaned, they are simply restricted to anyone not a member of the police or courts.
In general, the laws concerning record restriction did not change. Any adult conviction will still remain on a person’s record. However, most arrests that did not lead to a conviction may be removed.
The time of July 2013 is a determining factor as to how this process will be handled. Any arrest after this date may be automatically restricted that did not result in a conviction due to a failure to prosecute by the state, the charge being dismissed after the completion of a pretrial diversion program, or a not guilty verdict at trial.
Is There a Waiting Period?
A Cherokee County expungement lawyer knows that there is a waiting period during the restriction process, during which a person must face no new charges. For misdemeanors, a person must wait two years. Many felonies are cleared after five years while serious violent and sex-related felonies must wait for seven years.
For any arrest that meets the above three conditions that led to a not guilty verdict, and that occurred prior to July 2013, the individual counties have their own procedures. In Cherokee County, the applicant must make a request using this form, and submit it to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. The police department may request a fee not to exceed $50.
Determining Eligibility for Restriction
Once the form and fee are submitted, the information is sent to the prosecuting attorney in the case who determines if the case is eligible for restriction. If the case is eligible, the paperwork and an additional fee of $25 needs to be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for final processing. The entire process takes from six to nine months.
The only situations where a conviction may be removed is if the crime occurred before a person’s 21st birthday. Even so, only certain types of convictions are eligible. These include but are not limited to:
- Theft that is not shoplifting,
- Sexual battery, and
- Drug Offenses
The process for clearing these convictions is the same as for clearing an arrest. All applicants must have had a clean record for five years prior to applying for this restriction.
Potential Benefits of Restriction
A person’s criminal record follows them in most aspects of their life. Whether a person is applying for a job, renting an apartment, or asking for a license to carry a firearm, a person’s criminal record will be checked. Many jobs and residences will not even consider a candidate if they have as little as an arrest on their records.
By successfully completing the record restriction process, these marks can be made invisible by all but the police and courts. This will allow people who have been on the right side of the law for the past few years to move on with their lives.
A Cherokee County expungement lawyer can help you with this process. They gather all the necessary information, put the paperwork together, and work to give individuals the best possible chance of making a fresh start.