Records Restriction in Georgia

Georgia has statutory provisions for the restriction of a number of types of criminal history records. Some of these are automatic, while others require some action to be taken to obtain the restriction.  

Our Services

Reading a GCIC and evaluating what can and cannot be done is sufficiently complicated and time-intensive that I do not offer it as a free consultation or service.  

I will conduct a Review and Report of a recent "E" purpose GCIC report for a flat fee depending on the number of cycles on the GCIC report:  1-3 cycles is $250; 4-6 is $500; 7-10 is $750 and so on.  A written report will be provided laying out cycles eligible for remediation, what that would consist of, and an estimate (where appropriate) for my office to conduct the remediation.

What is Records Restriction?

Records restriction is sometimes referred to as expungement, although that term is not really accurate.  The state of Georgia maintains a database of information relating to criminal cases.  When a request for information about an individual is made, a purpose code must be designated.  That purpose code determines what information is reported.  If the request is made by the individual named in the report or by law enforcement or prosecution agenicies, the report will include unrestricted and restricted records.  If the purpose code is "E" (employment) and some other codes, the report will only include unrestricted records.

If you want to review your criminal history to determine if there are records present that can be restricted, it is important that you obtain an E-purpose code criminal history.  The Georgia criminal history is also referred to as a GCIC report.  GCIC refers tot he Georgia Criminal Information Center.

Can Convictions be Restricted?

Until the 2020 legislation (SB 288), convictions could only be restricted if they were for a qualifying offense where the conviction occurred prior to the person's twenty-first (21st) birthday. 

The 2020 legislation allows for restriction to be sought for:

  • qualifying felony convictions which have been pardoned
  • qualifying felony convictions that occurred while the person was a certified victim of human trafficking and 
  • qualifying misdemeanor convictions (no more than two cycles lifetime)

Obtaining Restriction for a Felony Conviction

Records restrictions for a felony conviction will not be available for an offense which is a serious violent felony or a sexual offense under Georgia law.  Serious violent felony offenses are those listed at OCGA 17-10-6.1.  Sexual offenses are listed at OCGA 17-10-6.2.

If you want to obtain restriction of a felony conviction, you must first obtain a pardon from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole.  The application process and application are available through the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole website.  The process can be pursued with or without an attorney.

The person cannot have been convicted of any offense (excluding non-serious traffic offenses) since the grant of the pardon.

For qualifying offenses which have been pardoned, the person would then need to file a petition for restriction in the court of conviction.  The petition must be served on the prosecuting attorney.  The court will schedule a hearing where evidence will be presented.  The judge will grant the restriction if it is determined that the harm otherwise resulting to the individual clearly outweighs the public's interest in the criminal history record information being publicly available. Since this is brand-new legislation, courts will be blazing new ground in making these determinations.  Courts are likely to consider the amount of time that has passed, the age of the person at the time of the offense, the seriousness of the offense, the public interest in the original charge, the efforts toward rehabilitation and treatment by the individual, etc.  The use of the term "clearly" may point some courts to using a standard of proof of "clear and convincing evidence," which is a very high standard.  It also appears that the burden will be on the petitioner to make this showing.  It will be very important to have the documentation and live witnesses to support the petition.  The hearing is to occur within 90 days of the filing of the petition. 

Felony convictions which occurred during a time when the person was a victim of human trafficking require law enforcement and prosecutorial certification of that status.

Obtaining Restriction for Misdemeanor Convictions

To seek restriction for a qualifying misdemeanor conviction, the person must not have been convicted of any offense in the four years prior to the filing of the petition and must not have any pending charges at the time of the filing of the petition.  Non-serious traffic offenses will not disqualify the person.  

The following offenses are not eligible for restriction:

  • Family violence stalking
  • Violating a family violence order
  • Child Molestation ("Romeo and Juliet" cases)
  • Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes
  • Improper Sexual Contact/OCGA 16-6-5.1
  • Public Indecency
  • Keeping a Place of Prostitution
  • Pimping
  • Pandering
  • Sexual Battery
  • Obstructing an Emergency Phone Call
  • Peeping Tom
  • Offenses related to minors  set out in Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 16 (sexual exploitation, provision of obscene material to minors, etc.)
  • Theft cases other than misdemeanor theft by shoplifting or refund fraud
  • Serious Traffic Offenses under Article 15 of Chapter 6 of Title 40 (DUI, reckless driving, vehicular homicide, etc.)

The following offenses are not eligible for restriction unless the individual was under the age of 21 years at the time of the offense:

  • Family violence simple assault
  • Family violence simple battery
  • Family violence battery

An individual is limited to filing petitions for restriction as to two convictions for a misdemeanor or series of misdemeanors.  A series of misdemeanors must be from a single incident or a group of misdemeanors consolidated for trial.

The person would need to file a petition for restriction in the court of conviction.  The petition must be served on the prosecuting attorney.  The court will schedule a hearing where evidence will be presented.  The judge will grant the restriction if it is determined that the harm otherwise resulting to the individual clearly outweighs the public's interest in the criminal history record information being publicly available. Since this is brand-new legislation, courts will be blazing new ground in making these determinations.  Courts are likely to consider the amount of time that has passed, the age of the person at the time of the offense, the seriousness of the offense, the public interest in the original charge, the efforts toward rehabilitation and treatment by the individual, etc.  The use of the term "clearly" may point some courts to using a standard of proof requiring "clear and convincing evidence," which is a very high standard.  It also appears that the burden will be on the petitioner to make this showing.  It will be very important to have the documentation and live witnesses to support the petition. The hearing is to occur within 90 days of the filing of the petition.

Cleaning up Non-Convictions

There are some arrest cycles that did not result in convictions but still appear on the person's record.  The mere appearance of the charge even with no final disposition or even a not-guilty disposition or dismissal may cause problems for the person.  

Not Guilty or Fully Dismissed Cycles

If the person was found not guilty of all charges or had all charges dismissed for a cycle, those cycles can usually be records restricted.  What needs to be done will be a function of when the arrest occurred.

Identity Theft Cycles

Some cycles may appear on  a person's criminal history because another person used the person's identifying information.  There is a method to have those cycles permanently reomoved through a GCIC records review.  The person will be fingerprinted or submit fingerprint cards from a law enforcement agency to allow comparison with the fingerprints from the contested arrest cycle. 

Incorrect Information or Disposition

Some cycles on a person's history may have incorrect information.  There is a method to contest that information and seek correction of the record, whether the inaccuracy is about the charges arrested for or the final disposition.

Incomplete Information or Disposition

Where the GCIC arrest cycle is incomplete as to information or disposition when the case has been completed, there is a method to address those issues as well.  Getting that fixed may open up the possibility of restriction under some other ground.

Dead Docketed Cases

Dead docketed cases pose some special challenges.  How to address them depends on the needs of the individual.  

Dead docketed cycles which have remained in that status for more than a year are often eligible for restriction.  It is important to note that this does not remove the cycle's status as an active case for firearms purchases and other governmental checks.

If the case remaining active will cause problems for the individual, then the remediation plan will turn to convincing the prosecutor to remove the case from the dead docket and dismissing it so that it can be both closed and restricted. 

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We provide brief no charge consultations for new criminal, traffic and DUI cases. Fees may be charged for consultations or case reviews for post-judgment matters including sex offender issues.

141 Savannah St W
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Toccoa, GA 30577
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