Lawmakers in Georgia changed the laws regarding access to criminal records so that now it is possible for more people to prevent others from viewing their history and effectively providing a clean slate. While not everyone is eligible to have their criminal records restricted, a process which used to be referred to as expungement, the changes in the law increased the types of situations eligible for restriction.
However, the procedures for obtaining record restriction can be complex and may require the assistance of an accomplished defense attorney. Those who are interested in having their criminal records restricted should contact a knowledgeable Gwinnett County expungement/record restriction lawyer to find out whether they are eligible and start taking the necessary steps to have their records restricted.
Expungement vs. Record Restriction
Effective in 2013, Georgia law replaced the process of record expungement with a new concept, record restriction. This change did not affect law enforcement officials’ access to criminal records. However, it did change the amount of information available for purposes other than criminal justice. Legislators enacted the new law primarily to make it easier for those with certain criminal offenses or charges on their record to pass background checks to obtain employment.
The change in terminology more accurately reflects the results of this new process. The old expungement procedures did not truly erase an individual’s criminal record. The process merely restricted those who had access to the information. Although it was meant to restrict access to those using the information for the purposes of criminal justice, companies conducting private background checks were often able to access records that were supposedly expunged.
Eligibility for Record Restriction
Under the law, the final disposition of the case is generally the factor that determines whether a case is eligible for record restriction. Those interested in this new form of expungement are advised to obtain a certified copy of the final disposition from the Clerk of the Court. It is not possible to determine whether a record can be restricted without the final disposition. Contact a Gwinnett County expungement/record restriction lawyer for help with the final disposition.
Types of Final Dispositions
The new law makes record restriction available for more cases than under the old expungement procedures. In some cases, the record restriction will be automatic while in others, it is necessary to file an action in Superior Court to have the record restricted.
Examples of eligible cases now include:
- Cases remaining on the dead docket for more than 12 months
- Convictions that were vacated or reversed
- Cases that have been dismissed
- Youthful offender convictions
- Cases where the individual involved completed a qualified drug or mental health program
- Cases where the defendant was acquitted after trial
- Cases where the defendant plead guilty and served a sentence under the Conditional Discharge Statute or First offender
It is important to realize that even under the new law, some types of final dispositions are still not eligible for expungement/record restriction. These include most charges resulting in convictions and those dismissed under certain circumstances. Get in touch with a Gwinnett County expungement/record restriction lawyer to learn more about final dispositions.
Working with a Gwinnett County Expungement Attorney
While in some cases, an individual’s record will be restricted automatically, in instances where the action is necessary to obtain a restriction, the process can be complicated.
If your case may be eligible for restriction under the new procedures, it is a good idea to contact a Gwinnett County expungement/record restriction lawyer for a free consultation, so long as you have a certified copy of your final disposition. A qualified attorney can assess your situation quickly and efficiently and help you achieve the best possible outcome in the shortest amount of time.