In Georgia, a criminal record can be restricted—that is, sealed, expunged, or erased—under the circumstances described below. After a record is restricted, it can be accessed only by criminal justice officials for law enforcement, employment, or criminal investigation purposes. (O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37 (2018).)
In Georgia, cases that terminate without a conviction are typically eligible for restriction. You may be able to have your criminal record restricted if, for instance, the charges against you were dropped or dismissed, or you were found not guilty at trial. This rule does not apply if:
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.
First-time drug possession. You may be able to have your criminal record restricted if you pleaded guilty to or were convicted of drug possession, were never before convicted of a drug offense, and have successfully completed all terms of your probation. (O.C.G.A. §§ 35-3-37(h)(2)(B), 16-13-2 (2018).)
Other 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 (2018).) If you successfully completed probation and were not arrested and convicted of another offense, your record may be restricted.
Other offenses. It is not possible to expunge, seal, or restrict your criminal record for other convictions in Georgia, even if you receive an official pardon for the offense.
If your Georgia criminal record contains mistakes or is incomplete, you can petition to have it corrected. (O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37 (2018).) For information and instructions on correcting your record, see the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Record FAQ.
You can find helpful information, including forms to file for record restriction, 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.