Most people find themselves going through rough patches in their lives. They may act in negative ways, carry out harmful or destructive behaviors or even cut themselves off from people that they love. Unfortunately, these rough patches could lead to serious consequences in some cases, such as an arrest for a crime.
If you found yourself in this type of predicament, it may have been the wake-up call you needed to get your life back on track. Now, you avoid actions that could land you in trouble and do your best to live a positive life. However, you may wonder about the effects your criminal record will have on your life.
In some states, individuals can apply for expungements that allow for certain information in their criminal records to be sealed or, essentially, erased in the eyes of the law. However, if a person faces a conviction for a crime in Georgia, that conviction will remain on his or her criminal record without the possibility of expungement because state law does not allow that erasure to take place.
Still, if you hope to address your criminal arrest record, you may still have an option. If your situation qualifies, you may be eligible for record restriction, which means that only judicial officials and criminal justice agencies can access the information on your criminal record relating to certain charges. Private businesses or individuals cannot access the information. You may qualify for record restriction if your arrest resulted in any of the following examples:
- The prosecutor did not file an indictment or accusation against you.
- The prosecutor did file an indictment or accusation. but later dismissed your charges or “dead-docketed” your case for 12 months.
- A material witness refused to testify in your case, resulting in its dismissal.
- You qualify under the Youthful Offender Program, meaning that the court convicted you of a qualifying misdemeanor while under the age of 21.
- The court vacated or reversed your conviction.
- Judicial economy resulted in the dismissal of your case.
- The court or jury found you “not guilty” after trial for the charges.
Other scenarios could also allow you to qualify for record restriction, and you may want to consult with your legal counsel about whether you may be eligible. If you do meet the requirements and if your arrest took place after July 1, 2013, you automatically qualify for restriction because the law allowing restriction went into effect on that date. If your arrest took place before that date, you and your legal counsel will need to work on applying for record restriction.