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What should I know about my criminal record in Georgia?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Criminal record laws in Georgia Resources

Criminal record laws in Georgia

What should I know? +

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What is on my criminal history record in Georgia?

If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, your criminal record is likely to be stored in a national or state database. The Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) keeps a record of all of your arrests or convictions in the state of Georgia. Often employers require a GCIC report to get a job. Public agencies may also require a GCIC report to get and keep public benefits. For these reasons, it is important that this report be accurate and reflects only the criminal history that is required by law. 

 

The information on your 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.

  • What was the result of the arrest, and 

  • Whether you were incarcerated in a Georgia correctional facility.

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Can I clear my criminal record?

Georgia law allows you to clear your criminal record maintained by the GCIC in certain instances. There are several steps you can take to clear your record, but they do not all bring the same result. 

  • You can contest the accuracy of information on your GCIC report. 

  • You can seek expungement or removal of the arrest record for certain types of arrests in certain situations. 

  • If you were convicted of a crime, then you can seek to restore your civil rights or get a pardon for your crimes. 

  • You can petition the court to restrict access to your criminal records.

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Can my arrest records be expunged in Georgia?

Arrest records can only be expunged if: 

  • No other criminal charges are pending against you; and 

  • You have not been convicted of the same or similar offense within the last 5 years. 

 

Only certain arrest records can be expunged. Arrest records that can be expunged are: 

  • No Indictment or Accusation was filed because: 

    • You were arrested, but were released without the offense being referred to the prosecuting attorney for prosecution, or 

    • The prosecuting attorney dismissed the charges without seeking an indictment or filing an accusation. 

  • An Indictment or Accusation was filed, but: 

    • The charges were “nolle prossed,” 

    • The charges were dead docketed, or 

    • The charges were dismissed. 

 

But, if one of the following circumstances apply, expungement is not possible:

  • Charges were dismissed because of a plea agreement that resulted in a conviction for an offense arising out of the same underlying transaction or occurrence as the conviction. 

  • The government was barred from introducing material evidence against you; 

  • A material witness refused to testify or was unavailable to testify against you, unless the witness refused to testify based on his or her statutory right to do so;

  • You were in jail on other criminal charges and the prosecuting attorney decided not to prosecute for reasons of judicial economy; 

  • You successfully completed a pretrial diversion program that did not specifically provide for expungement of the arrest record; 

  • You were arrested for conduct that was part of a pattern of criminal activity which was prosecuted in another court of this state, the United States, another state, or foreign nation; or 

  • You had diplomatic, consular, or similar immunity or inviolability from arrest or prosecution. 

 

Some records cannot be expunged, including: 

  • First Offender pleas; and 

  • Nolo Contendere pleas.

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Who can get their civil rights restored or get a pardon in Georgia?

If there are crimes reported on your GCIC that are not eligible for expungement, you may seek to have your civil rights restored or get a pardon. 

 

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. 

 

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

Starting January 1, 2020, if you were convicted of a crime, you may be able to stop others from looking at your criminal records.

You can:

  • Petition the court to restrict certain misdemeanor convictions. 

    • 4 years after you completed your sentence, 

    • IF you have no pending charges and no convictions in the 4 years before the petition.

  • Petition the court to restrict certain felony convictions 5 years after you complete your sentence IF:

    • You have been pardoned for the offense AND

    • You have no convictions since you got the pardon.

This law does not apply to convictions for some categories of crimes, including:

  • Domestic violence (family violence),

  • Theft,

  • Serious traffic offenses,

  • Sexual offenses, and

  • Violent felonies.

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What can I do? +

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How can I make sure the information on my criminal record is accurate?

To be sure the information on your GCIC criminal record is right, get a copy of the record.

 

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. 

  • 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:

  • For information on how to:

    • Expunge an arrest from your record, 

    • Get a pardon, 

    • Restore your civil rights or 

    • Restrict access to your criminal record.

  • To apply for legal help with your criminal record.

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Dec 02, 2020