In Georgia, a criminal record can be expunged -- that is, sealed or erased -- under the circumstances described below. After a record is expunged, it can be accessed only by criminal justice officials for law enforcement or criminal investigation purposes. (O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37.)
Expungement If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime
You may be able to expunge your Georgia criminal record if the charges against you were dropped or dismissed. This rule does not apply if:
- there are other criminal charges pending against you
- you were convicted of the same or a similar offense within the last five years, or
- you entered into a plea agreement that caused the charges against you to be dropped or dismissed.
There are a few other exceptions as well. Carefully read Section 35-3-37 of the Georgia Code or consult a criminal law attorney to learn more.
Expungement If You Were Convicted of a Crime
First-time offenses. The Georgia First Offender Act permits some defendants to receive probation instead of being subject to judgment by a court. (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60.) If you successfully completed probation and were not arrested and convicted of another offense, your record may be sealed on the Georgia Criminal Information Center Database. However, it will still be available through other sources, such as court docket books and criminal justice agency websites.
Other offenses. It is not possible to expunge your criminal record for other convictions in Georgia, even if you receive an official pardon for the offense.
Correcting an Inaccurate Criminal Record
If your Georgia criminal record contains mistakes or is incomplete, you can petition to have it corrected. (O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37.) For information and instructions on correcting your record, see the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Record FAQ.
For More Information
You can find helpful information, including forms to file for expungement, by visiting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation website. Be aware, however, that cleaning up your criminal record can be complicated. To learn more about expunging criminal records in Georgia -- and to discuss your personal circumstances -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.