Georgia Expungement Lawyer
As part of his practice as a Cobb County Criminal Defense Attorney and Cobb County Criminal Appeals Attorney, Ben represents people seeking to have their arrest record "restricted," which is what most people refer to as "expunged." Sometimes, this is simply a matter of correcting a mistake on the record. Other times it is more complicated. No matter what the situation, having the assistance of a Cobb County Criminal Defense Lawyer will make the process more efficient. This is one type of legal matter that individuals may be able to represent themselves on, but your chances of success are much higher with legal representation.
Record Restriction in Georgia
What used to be called expungement is now called record restriction in Georgia. Both refer to the process of having an arrest removed from one's official criminal history. As a Cobb County Criminal Defense Attorney, Ben receives phone calls and inquiries every week from individuals seeking to have older convictions expunged. Unfortunately, save for a few less serious convictions for people under the age of 21, convictions themselves cannot be expunged. Record restriction/expungement applies only to arrests when the case itself has been dismissed or otherwise not adjudicated.
For arrests that occurred prior to July 1, 2013, the old method of seeking record restriction applies. This process can be started by printing the standard application form from the GBI website. In a nutshell, the applicant fills out the first page of the application and then mails the whole form to the arresting agency along with whatever fee they require for processing. The arresting agency then forwards the application to the applicable district attorney or solicitor general. Once they have completed their part, the form is mailed back to you. Then you are required to mail the whole thing to the GBI along with a $25.00 money order or certified check.
Most people interested in record restriction were arrested after July 1, 2013. The good news is that record restriction is much easier if you fall into this category. For the most part, there is nothing arrestees in this situation need to do. Once the case is dismissed, the prosecuting agency is required to notify the GBI of this, and the GBI is required to restrict the arrest. Restriction does not mean that it is as if the arrest never occurred. What is means is that it will not be accessible by the public and will not be on your official criminal history. Only law enforcement and certain other agencies can access the restricted arrest.
Getting Records Sealed
As a Cobb County Expungement Lawyer, Ben frequently speaks to people who are confused about why their restricted arrest(s) still appear on private background checks. Record restriction and record sealing are different. As noted above, restriction deals with the arrest on one's official criminal history. Unfortunately, private background services, which can be unreliable, oftentimes receive their information not from people's official history but instead from the clerk and/or jail of whatever County you were arrested and/or prosecuted in. To prevent this from happening, you must actually take the process a step further, by seeking to have these records sealed.
A motion to seal the clerk of court's records can only be done (or won) after the arrest itself has been restricted. If you can establish this, and convince the assigned judge that the record of the case is harmful to your privacy and this harm clearly outweighs the public interest in the charge(s) being publicly available, the judge will have the discretion to order that the clerk seal the records.
Like record restriction, filing a motion to have a record sealed can be done pro se (on your own, without a lawyer's representation), but you are more likely to make an error on the procedural and/or substantive part of making such a motion. Ben is a Cobb County Record Restriction Lawyer who is happy to discuss your particular situation with you in a free consultation. Contact him here or call him at 404-985-9772.