A Real Second Chance

Georgia’s General Assembly has always been actively looking for new ways to reintegrate offenders back into society by allowing them chances at normal lives such as finding a stable job. Now you’ve probably heard of sealing records under Georgia’s “First Offender Act,” but many people aren’t aware of the new addition to the legislation. In 2016, judges were granted the authority to restrict first offender records at the time of sentencing instead of waiting until the sentence is complete and to seal court and jail records for successful first offenders (OCGA §42-8-62.1). Not everyone qualifies to be listed as a first offender. Here are some offenses below that would NOT qualify for this legislation:

● Serious violent felony;
● Sexual offense defined in OCGA 17-10-6.2;
● Trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude;
● Neglecting disabled adults and elder persons;
● Exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults and elder person;
● Sexual exploitation of minor;
● Electronically furnishing obscene materials to a minor;
● Computer pornography and child exploitation;
● Serious offenses against law enforcement officers; and
● Driving under the Influence (DUI).

​Georgia’s First Offender Act is known as the “second chance law” because it gives first time offenders a chance to grow from their mistakes and move on to live normal lives without criminal records hurting their chances at employment. Just to clarify, case records of the proceedings are open to the public. The offender must petition the court to seal the records which will make them unavailable to the public upon successful completion of the probation or confinement and upon recording the Order of Discharge.

Clerks of court transmit the records to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) after an offender is in confinement or on parole. When the offender is sentenced, they may seek to limit public access to their sentencing information and court can restrict access to the offender’s records to the public. In other words, if you are an offender and an employer or job agency does a third party background check they won’t be able to find any records. If you are interested in learning more, please call our office at 404-997-8470 to set up a consultation.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Cansino Blanchette Law Firm or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.