Can I Get My Records Sealed?
Criminal records, including arrests and convictions, can significantly limit your personal and professional life. Fortunately, Georgia law allows certain individuals who were acquitted, found not guilty, or who completed their sentence to have their record restricted to move forward with their lives.
If you want to understand your options for getting your criminal records sealed, contact a criminal defense attorney. At Kyle H. Jarzmik Law, I assist individuals in Atlanta, Georgia, and throughout the state to navigate the sealing process to help them get a fresh start.
How Does Record Restriction Differ From Record Sealing?
Many people do not understand the difference between restriction and sealing records. Record restriction means that records of the person's state-level arrest record cannot be seen by the public, while sealing is the process of sealing an individual court clerk's records from being viewed or searched by the public.
Who Can Request to Have Their Records Restricted?
In Georgia, individuals can have their arrest record restricted if their charges were dismissed or dropped, or if the individual was not convicted of the crime. It can also be restricted if they successfully complete a sentence under the First Offender Act or a Conditional Discharge (for certain drug possession cases). A person will not have their records restricted if the charges were dismissed or dropped and any of the following is true:
- The person pleaded guilty to another charge;
- The individual was not acquitted on all charges in the case;
- The charge was related to the criminal activity prosecuted by another state or country; or
- The case was dismissed or dropped as a result of entering into a plea agreement.
New Georgia law also allows individuals convicted of crimes to petition a court to have their records restricted. The restriction rule applies to:
- Misdemeanor offenses. An individual can request the court to have their records restricted as long as four years have passed after completing their sentence. To qualify for a record restriction, the individual cannot be convicted of other offenses and must have no pending charges during the waiting period.
- Felony offenses. Georgia law only allows those who were convicted of felonies to have their records sealed if the State Board of Pardons & Paroles grants parole.
- Drug possession. Those who complete a sentence under Conditional Discharge probation as long as they have completed the terms of their probation and have no prior convictions for drug-related crimes. This can only be used once in a person's life.
- First Offender Act. Those who successfully complete a sentence after a plea under the First Offender Act are eligible for record restriction. This can only be used once in a person's life.
Consider speaking with a knowledgeable attorney to determine if your case meets the requirements to have the records sealed in Georgia.
Who Is Not Eligible Have Their Records Restricted?
Certain individuals are not eligible to have their records sealed in Georgia. The following misdemeanor and felony charges do not qualify for a record restriction:
- Sexual battery
- Public indecency
- Molestation of a child
- Sex crimes against children
- Family violence battery
- Certain DUI charges
- Certain theft charges
- Armed robbery
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Sexual exploitation of children
- And others
That is not the full list of offenses that are not eligible for a record restriction in Georgia. Consult with an attorney to find out if your charges qualify for having your records sealed.
Is a Restricted Record Ever Able to Be Used?
If your records are restricted or sealed, they are no longer available to the public. In other words, sealed records are not publicly available on background checks through law enforcement searches, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys, however, will still be able to see that you were arrested.
What Is the Process?
A skilled attorney can guide you through the record restriction or sealing process and help you prepare and submit the necessary paperwork to the court to initiate the restriction of your records in Georgia. In order to initiate the process, the individual with a criminal record must file an action with the Superior Court in the county where the record is located. The success of the individual’s request hinges on the approval or denial from the prosecuting attorney, which is why you’ll need a knowledgeable attorney to prepare a strong case on your behalf.
Practical Counsel & Strong Advocacy
Having your records sealed is a tricky matter, especially if you do not know where to start. If you are thinking about filing a motion to have your records sealed in Georgia, consider speaking with a record seal petition attorney. At Kyle H. Jarzmik Law, I am dedicated to helping individuals navigate the record sealing process in Atlanta and other counties throughout the state of Georgia, including Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Douglas County, Coweta County, and others. Contact me to get a case review and find out about your options.