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What should I know about my criminal record in Georgia?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
Read this in: Spanish / Español

Criminal record laws in Georgia

Contents


What is on my criminal history record in Georgia?

If you have ever been fingerprinted during an arrest, your criminal record is stored in the state database called the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC).. This is your official state criminal history. Law enforcement and the courts have access to this history. Public agencies may also require a GCIC report to get and keep public benefits. It is important to make sure your GCIC report is accurate and only reflects the criminal history that is required by law. You can do this by reviewing the accuracy of your GCIC report and restricting anything that is eligible for restriction. Information on how to do both of these can be found below.

The information on your GCIC criminal record includes:

  • Your personal information, including:
    • Name,
    • Date of birth,
    • Social security number,
    • Sex,
    • Race,
    • Height, and 
    • Weight.
  • Arrest data, including:
    • The arresting agency,
    • Date of the arrest, and 
    • Charges.
  • Data from the prosecutor, including:
    • The prosecutor’s office,
    • Formal charges brought  
  • Data from the court, including:
    • Disposition of charges,
    • Sentence received.

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Can I stop employers and others from looking at my criminal records in Georgia?

In addition, most employers and housing providers will require a background check to get a job or rent a home. Some employers use GCIC to get these reports. However, most employers and housing providers use a private company to put together a background report. These private background reports pull from all public records to get their information. For this reason, it is important that you seal court case records whenever possible; if you seal eligible offenses, most employers and housing providers should not be able to see the records. Information on how to seal eligible records can be found below.  

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What can I do to clean up my criminal record in Georgia?

Can I get a FELONY conviction off my record?

Maybe. There are 3 ways to restrict and seal (expunge) a Georgia felony conviction.

  1. Retroactive First Offender: O.C.G.A § 42-8-66
    • Eligibility – If you would have been eligible for First Offender at the time of your sentencing, but were not aware of your eligibility, you may be retroactively sentenced as a First Offender if the prosecutor consents to filing and the judge grants the petition.
    • Impact – No longer a conviction, can be sealed.
  2. Restrict & seal pardoned convictions: O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37 (2021 change!)
    • Eligibility – If you received a pardon for an eligible offense(s), you may petition the court to restrict and seal the record(s) if you have not been convicted of anything since you were pardoned.  Serious violent felonies and serious sex offenses are not eligible for restriction and sealing, even if the case was pardoned. 
    • Impact – Conviction is restricted on GCIC and sealed from public record.
  3. Vacate, restrict, & seal under the Survivors First Act: O.C.G.A. §§ 17-10-21, 35-3-37 (2020 change!)
    • Eligibility – If you are a survivor of sex or labor trafficking, you can petition the court to vacate and/or restrict and seal convictions that were the direct result of being trafficked or were committed while you were being trafficked. (Note: 1 year waiting period after sentence completion for vacatur of a felony offense).
    • Impact – No longer a conviction if vacated and/or the conviction is restricted on GCIC and sealed from public record.
Can I get a MISDEMEANOR conviction off my record?

Maybe. The same 3 remedies are available to restrict and seal (expunge) misdemeanor convictions.  

  1. Retroactive First Offender: O.C.G.A § 42-8-66
  2. Restrict & seal TWO misdemeanor convictions: O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37 (2021 change!)
    • Eligibility – If the judge agrees, you may be able to restrict and seal up to 2 eligible misdemeanor convictions if you completed all of your sentences at least 4 years ago and haven’t been convicted of anything else in those 4 years.    
    • Impact – Conviction is restricted on GCIC and sealed from public record.
  3. Vacate, restrict, & seal under the Survivors First Act: O.C.G.A. §§ 17-10-21, 35-3-37 (2020 change!)
    • Same eligibility as above. (Note: 6 month waiting period after sentencing for vacatur of a misdemeanor offense). 
Can I get a NON-CONVICTION off my record?

Yes. You can restrict and seal charges that were not indicted or accused, were dismissed/nolle prossed, or acquitted at trial.

  • Arrests before July 1, 2013 – Apply for restriction through the arresting agency and pay any required fees. The clerk’s file may need to be sealed.
  • Arrests on or after July 1, 2013 – Should be automatically restricted when the clerk of court or prosecutor enters the appropriate disposition into the GCIC database. You may still need to petition to seal the clerk’s file. 
Can I get a PENDING case off my record?

Maybe. You may be able to restrict & seal cases on the dead docket for more than 12 months. It is recommended you speak with an attorney first. 

Can I fix my record if it is WRONG?

Yes. Criminal history reports are frequently wrong and the procedure depends on the type of error.

  • Inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information – You need to request the agency who entered the information to correct it. If the agency does not fix it, appeal to the original court.
  • Identity theft – complete a record inspection through the Georgia Crime Information Center.

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Who can get their civil rights restored in Georgia?

Restoration of civil and political rights is an order restoring the rights which are lost in Georgia upon conviction. These rights include the right to run for and hold public office, to serve on a jury, and to serve as a Notary Public. Restoration of civil and political rights is granted by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

There are two requirements to get your civil rights restored:

  1. You must finish serving all your sentences; and 
  2. You must live in Georgia, or your request must involve a conviction from a Georgia court. 

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Who can get a pardon in Georgia?

A pardon in Georgia is “an order of official forgiveness granted to those individuals who have maintained a good reputation in their community following the completion of their sentence(s).” Pardons are generally for felony convictions, but misdemeanors can be pardoned if certain criteria are met. Pardons are also granted by the Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles and may be helpful for advancement in employment, housing, or education. Most pardoned offenses are now eligible for restriction and sealing (expungement).
There are several requirements to qualify for a pardon: 

  • You must finish serving all your sentences AND then wait at least 5 years before requesting a pardon, 
  • You must be a law-abiding citizen after you finish serving your sentences, 
  • You cannot have any other criminal charges pending against you; and 
  • You cannot have any unpaid fines. 
  • Your request must involve a conviction from a Georgia court. (Georgia CANNOT pardon convictions from other states or from a federal court on federal charges).

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Contents


How can I get a copy of my GCIC criminal record?

Getting a copy of your GCIC criminal record is important for two reasons.

  1. First, you will want to be sure the information on your GCIC criminal record is right.
  2. Second, you will need to review your criminal record in order to determine whether you are eligible to apply for relief. 

You can get a copy of your GCIC from your local police department or sheriff ’s office. There is usually a small fee, and you will need to show identification in order to get your record. 

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How can I fix an inaccurate GCIC report? 

If your GCIC report contains information about another person (who may have used your name or social security number for instance), or the information contained on it is not accurate, then you can contest the report. 

To find more information about contesting the accuracy of the report go to the GCIC website or call the GCIC’s criminal records department at (404) 244-2639.

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Where can I get information on how to expunge my record, get a pardon, restore my civil rights or restrict access to my criminal record?

The Georgia Justice Project is the expert on dealing with your criminal record. Visit the Georgia Justice Project website:

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Dec 02, 2020
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