Expungement/ Sealing of Records
I’M CONVICTED OF A CRIME AND IT’S AFFECTING MY LIFE: IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO?
We see it over and over again. We see good, genuine people who struggle through life because of isolated incidents that ended up leaving marks on their criminal record. Very few people fully understand the full extent that a criminal conviction can have on their lives. It could make it very difficult to secure quality housing, to gain meaningful employment with room to grow toward promotion, and it can even influence your chances of receiving loans, securing credit, the list goes on and on. There is some good news! Georgia Code (§35‐3‐37 (2012)) provides eligible individuals a way out of this cycle through a process called expungement and/ or record restriction. Those who have this eligibility can petition the court to have these negative marks on their record sealed and removed from the general public.
I’M INTERESTED IN SEALING AND/OR EXPUNGING MY RECORD: HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M ELIGIBLE?
It gets tricky when it comes to what can and cannot be removed from an individual’s criminal record. There are some categories of convictions that are strictly unavailable for this process. Additionally, volume of convictions and/ or arrests can directly affect an individual’s eligibility. You want to know if you’re eligible before you start the process, so it is recommended that you seek counsel from an expert in criminal law who can confirm what can and cannot be done to help your record. We handle many cases of this nature and would be happy to consult with you about your options.
I’M READY AND I’M ELIGIBLE: HOW DO WE GET THIS DONE?
The process for expungement and sealing of your record requires specific steps and action. The first step of expungement is to complete the Georgia Request for Record Expungement form. This is a document that initiates your process, but before it is useable you must bring it to your arresting agency to allow for them to fill out their portion of the document. The next step is to get the completed form to the prosecutor of your case. They will review your form and either approve or deny it. There are two possible approval options. Option one would be automatic sealing handled by the prosecutor’s office. If this is your situation congratulations! You’ve now expunged the relevant case information off of your record. If it is not automatic you must deliver the approval to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) to complete your process.
This is typically only half the battle for most cases. There’s still the matter of clerk of court records and potential jail roster information that remains available to the public. Dealing with this availability is done through the process of sealing your record. Sealing your record is done through a motion to the court. You will petition your judge to hear your situation and plead with them to submit an order to seal and restrict all clerk and/or jail records from being available to the public. Success rates in these petitions depend greatly on the cooperation of the client and the clear and present hardship that they are able to present in their motion. Good examples of hardship that could result in success of your motion would be inability to secure and maintain meaningful employment, inability to secure student loans for continued learning opportunities, and inability to maintain quality housing for a family or children. But there are many other possibilities and situations when it comes to hardship.
The best course of action to determine where your case fits in all of this information is to come and speak with our firm. We will be able to determine where you need to begin and what the best course of action will be for your specific case. We look forward to working with you.