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Understanding the Georgia Dead Docket

Posted by Sean A. Black | Sep 01, 2015 | 96 Comments

The legal dictionary definition of “dead docketing” is a procedural device by which ‘the prosecution is postponed indefinitely but may be reinstated at any time at the pleasure of the court.

That may not be very helpful to many clients in understanding what has happened to the case against them and what may happen in the future. In fact, the answer to those questions may depend a great deal upon the circumstances leading to the dead docket order.

Dockets, So Many Dockets

Let's start with the basics. The clerk of court maintains a list of criminal cases. This is referred to as a docket. The list used to be maintained in a docket book. These days, the list is usually maintained on computer. When a case is closed by conviction, plea or dismissal, the case comes off of the active docket and goes to the closed docket.

Sometimes, a case is not closed, but there is a need to have it off of the active docket. Out of that need, there arose the dead docket. Once dead docketed, the case will not appear on the active trial calendar unless the judge orders it placed back on the active trial calendar. The first Georgia law authorizing such a docket was in 1883. The current version appears at OCGA § 15-6-61:

It is the duty of the clerk of superior court ... [t]o keep in the clerk's office ... [a]n automated criminal case management system which shall contain ... entries of cases which are ordered dead docketed at the discretion of the presiding judge and which shall be called only at the judge's pleasure. When a case is thus dead docketed, all witnesses who may have been subpoenaed therein shall be released from further attendance until resubpoenaed; . . .”

The dead docket is a list of inactive criminal cases which have not actually been terminated. However, many cases placed on the dead docket die there without any further action.

Dead Docketing Does Not End the Case

The courts have clearly stated that dead docketing is not a dismissal or a termination of the prosecution in the defendant's favor. The case is still pending. It can be called for trial upon the judge ordering it back onto the active trial calendar. Since it is still pending, the defendant can still make a demand for trial.

Dead Docketing Ends the Surety's Obligation

Typically, when a person is arrested on a criminal charge, they are required to post bond. This is usually accomplished by the pledge of a surety to make sure that the defendant comes to court and to pay a certain sum of money if the defendant does not appear in court.

OCGA §§ 17-6-31(c) provides that:

The principal shall ... be considered surrendered by plea of guilty or nolo contendere ... or if the principal is present in person when the jury or judge ... finds the principal guilty or if the judge dead dockets the case prior to entry of judgment and, upon such plea or finding of guilty or dead docketing, the surety shall be released from liability.

The same statute goes on, at OCGA §17-6-31(d)(1)(F) to provide that “the surety shall be released from liability if, prior to entry of judgment, there is ...[a] dead docket ...”

Courts have Set the Rules

When the legislature passes an act, the terms of the act are then placed into the code. When complete, the act is said to have been codified. Other than the examples above, there are no statutes, or laws, that set out how the dead docket operates. Instead, these rules have been set out by courts in case law.

Requirement of Indictment or Accusation

An indictment or accusation is the method by which a criminal case is formally placed on the active criminal docket. It makes sense that the case needs to have been indicted or accused in order for it to be moved from the active docket to the dead docket.

Who Can Dead Docket? Who Can Ask for It?

Both superior and state courts have active criminal dockets maintained by the Clerk of Court and therefore have authority to manage their case load by placing cases onto the dead docket. The Superior Court Judge or the State Court Judge presiding over a particular case can order it placed onto the dead docket.

Either the prosecutor or the defense attorney can move for dead docketing. As with any other court action, notice to the opposing side is required.

I Don't Want a Dead Docket, What Can I Do?

A defendant has a right to object to the entry of a dead docket, and it is an abuse of discretion for a judge to order a case dead docketed over the objection.

The prosecution might also be expected to object in certain circumstances to a defendant's motion to dead docket. It is not clear that grant of the motion over a prosecution objection would be an abuse of discretion.

It does appear that in that situation, it might be difficult for the prosecution to correct the perceived wrong, since an order dead docketing a case is not a dismissal of the charges, so it would not be appealable under OCGA § 5-7-1(a), which permits prosecutors to appeal orders
dismissing indictments or accusations.

Why Do Cases Get Dead Docketed?

There are many reasons for a case to be dead docketed.

For instance, if a defendant is incarcerated in another state, the prosecution might not be willing to dismiss the case but also might not be willing to go to the effort and expense in obtaining an interstate transfer of a prisoner. In such a situation, a detainer would be placed on the person and the case would be dead docketed until the person comes into custody upon release by the other state.

A case might be dead docketed because of weak, missing or questionable evidence.

A case might be dead docketed because the victim does not wish for the case to be prosecuted and the prosecution is willing to give the defendant a chance to show that there will not be future offenses.

The Statute of Limitations Does Not Apply

The statute of limitations applies to the initiation of a case. It sets a time limit during which prosecution must begin. Since a dead docketed case has already been indicted or accused, the case has already been initiated and the statute of limitations has been satisfied.

Constitutional Speedy Trial Still Applies

The time that a case is on the dead docket can be considered adversely to the state on a constitutional speedy trial motion if prosecution of the case is reactivated.

How Does the Case Get Brought Back to the Active Calendar?

The prosecution or defense can move the court for a return of the case to the active docket. Notice should be given to the other party.

What Does a Defendant Get Out of a Dead Docket?

First and foremost, dead docketing releases a defendant from the requirement of appearing in court for calendar calls and other hearings related to active cases.

Second, dead docketing releases the bond. So, your surety is no longer on the hook for ensuring the defendant's appearance. If there is a cash bond, it should be returned.

Third, in a DUI case, a dead docket is likely enough to cause the set aside of a pending administrative suspension.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, if a case remains on the dead docket for at least twelve months, the defendant can request records restriction under Georgia law.

Fifth, many cases placed on the dead docket never return to life. So, in many cases, the defendant will not face future prosecution for this charge.

However, since the case is not over, the defendant cannot initiate an action to recover damages for malicious prosecution or malicious arrest arising out of that criminal case. Such actions require dismissal or acquittal before they can be initiated.

About the Author

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.


Andre Jackson Reply

Posted Jun 13, 2016 at 13:12:13

Thank you for posting this blog, Attorney Black. Your explanation of Georgia’s “dead docketing” of criminal cases is very clear and easy to follow and understand, especially for a lay person like myself. Great job.

Mike yancey Reply

Posted Oct 21, 2016 at 01:42:53

I was arrested in may 2015 for child molestation on my 6 yr I did not do anything to my son I have two sons the other is 4 at time his 5 an my ex she coached my son well I did 9 mounths of hell an during time pick juror’s before trail the da deaf docketed my case I been trying to get money for a lawyer to see my sons but I can’t get work I lost my jobs my home my car but most importantly my kids I’m prying ever day wat do I do any help I have seen a doctor for stress I have PTSD now from this I am 31 this has been hard on my family my ex slander my name ever where here in GA Brunswick my ex tried to get married right as I was in jail but has now moved into another man’s home getting married again um more to story but im trying to be short..tores trail she took my oldest to public defender office to say now Mikey my our son is saying if they put him on stand he said daddy didn’t but I don’t understand why they dead docketed me they have cut my public defender off claim my case is closed case . Why didn’t they tell me there sorry put her in jail for damageing our babies minds an so on they keep me in jail for a week after I was placed on dead docket any help please

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Oct 21, 2016 at 05:56:02

Any sexual assault case, but child sexual assault cases especially, are very challenging. There is a natural willingness to accept such accusations at face value. People think, why would a child lie about such a thing? But, it can and does happen. In some cases, as you describe, it is because the child is being manipulated for someone else’s purposes.

From your description, the prosecutor decided, with your child recanting his statement, that the case was not strong enough to take to court. Notwithstanding that, the prosecutor did not dismiss the charges against you. Instead, the prosecutor placed the case on a dead docket. The case is still pending, but it is off of the active trial calendar, and the prosecutor has no intention to proceed with your prosecution. This could change if other evidence develops.

With a public defender, there is not much else that they can do to assist you beyond seeing the case dead docketed and securing your release from jail. In truth, that is a lot and they consider that they have done a good job for you. They have.

Unfortunately, lawyers, private or public, are not always able to rebuild people’s lives after a false accusation.

The fact that the case can be brought back onto the active trial calendar puts you in a very difficult situation relative to your children. You should sit down with a domestic lawyer in your area to explore your options. But, consider that efforts by you to establish contact and visitation or custody with your children may increase your ex’s motivations to pressure or coach both children to make further accusations against you of either past events or future events. You likely need the involvement of not only a lawyer but mental health professionals to assist your children and to evaluate both you and your ex.

Contact with your children without those protections in place to monitor your contact and to insulate against additional accusations would be dangerous.

Natalyah Reply

Posted Jan 23, 2017 at 09:01:38

I was arrested for burglary for pawn 2 videos games. That were in a burglary I had no part of. Even tho I wasn’t apart of it, I was told I would be charge because the items were stolen. I have been out on bail for 2 years now. I have not went to court. I called the clerk of courts and she tells me I’m not in their system. I also call the jail and they can’t give me information. No one has info on my case or arrest, but it’s on my record and coming up on background checks for employment. What should I do? What is really going on?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jan 23, 2017 at 09:58:12

The statute of limitations is four years. It is possible that the prosecutor’s office either has not decided what to do with your case or has decided not to prosecute it but did not put that decision onto the record. It doesn’t sound like a very good case, but you never can tell. It depends on the particular prosecutor’s office whether it makes sense to say anything at this stage. You certainly don’t want to poke a sleeping bear and end up having to defend yourself in court. Waiting out the statute of limitations may be your best choice.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Mar 22, 2017 at 10:15:33

I am sorry that his lawyer is not communicating with him. Were there bond restrictions which limited him in him movements and prevented him from leaving the state? If not, then there shouldn’t be any problem with that. He should still keep the clerk of court informed of his correct residence/service address.

The statute of limitations refers to the time from the offense until the case is brought into court by the filing of a citation, accusation or indictment. From your description, that was met. With the case on dead docket, there are still constitutional speedy trial issues. Also, under the new records restriction law, because the case has been on the dead docket for more than twelve months, is eligible to move the court to restrict the record of arrest. That is not an action you want to take without a lawyer and without the lawyer having the opportunity to know everything about the case.

Jimmy lewis Reply

Posted Mar 27, 2017 at 22:45:42

Hello, I was arrested in 2006 for forgery in the first degree, what really happened was that one of my friend needed help to cash his check and so I was at the time, being a good friend deposited into my account, come to find out, the check was a fraud check, it bounced my account. Went to court for it and had to take a pretty trial intervention program and my case was placed on dead docket

Tammy Ivie Reply

Posted May 18, 2017 at 08:20:48

I was arrested in 2016 for simple battery and called to check in with my bondsman and was told that my court date was july 5, 2017. After talking to my lawyer she said that was my court date from last year. As I had the same date and time Be court July 5, 2016. I called court house and the clerk said that was a dead docket.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 25, 2017 at 06:06:22

If the case was dead docketed, it sounds like the prosecutor may have decided not to pursue the case. A copy of the court filings would be helpful in determining what actually happened.

Boi blu Reply

Posted May 30, 2017 at 08:10:21

In 2005 I was arrested for possession of a gun in which I had no possession off the case was dead. And I was trying to see what can I do to expunge it off my record or to close it all the way

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 30, 2017 at 08:27:54

It would involve pulling a recent criminal history, a copy of the court file on the dead docketed case, and filing a request with the prosecuting agency to restrict the record.

Denise long Reply

Posted Jul 15, 2017 at 19:54:52

My ex boyfriend was arrested for assaulting me, obstruction of a police officer, DUI, fleeing several other charges and it was dead docketed due to health issues. He is fine now. Can I request that the courts reopen the case.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jul 16, 2017 at 09:36:32

Yes. Go back to the prosecutor on the case.

Pat Reply

Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 15:40:03

I was arrested 2 years n 2 days after a so called offense that suppose to had taken place nov 2013 in haralson county ga. It was dec 2015 when I was arrest on the 2 misdemeanors here it is 2017 and i haven’t heard anything from the courts. Does this mean my case is dead docket and can I get my record restricted or finished under GA laws bc the statue of limitation is up?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jul 28, 2017 at 06:13:51

If you were arrested more than two years after the offense for misdemeanor charges, it was past the statute of limitations at that point unless there were circumstances that would cause the tolling of the statute of limitations. Your summary does not provide me sufficient information to know if any of those circumstances are present. Examples would be if you were not a resident of the state or stayed outside the state or if the victim was a minor. An accusation would need to have been filed within two years of the offense conduct. The warrant does not stop the running of the statute of limitations. Your best bet would be to run a criminal history and have someone check the court records for Haralson County.

BStone Reply

Posted Aug 09, 2017 at 00:53:21

I was arrested in May 2000 for misdemeanor petty theft in Columbus,GA. I appeared in court in July 2000 and was found not guilty and was told charges were dismissed. I did not serve any time and no fees were ordered to be paid. I am now an R.N. in the state of Florida and looking to move to Columbus, Ga. The GA board of nursing is requesting my criminal back ground. I requested such paperwork from Muskogee County and I was sent a copy stating my case was a dead docket. In previously reading what you’re stating about dead docket cases, does this mean it is still an active case and not closed?
And how would I go about getting this off of my record? Are there any time statue of limitations with this?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Aug 14, 2017 at 08:00:16

If the case is still showing up on your record, it is possible to request that the record be restricted through the prosecutor’s office that handled the case.

Whitney Reply

Posted Jan 14, 2018 at 07:22:01

I was arrested on hindering apprehension of a criminal in 2013 for my now husband. I am now about to try to be licensed for insurance agent and i fear that this charge on dead docket will interfere. Do i leave this case where it is or try to press the courts ? I haven’t gotten any other charges on my record before that or after. I jave voluntarily went into drug court but am doing exceptionally well in the program. Any advice greatly appreciated.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jan 14, 2018 at 09:58:02

How long has it been on the dead docket? It may be eligible for dismissal unless it was dead docketed pursuant to an agreement that did not allow for records restriction or had conditions you have not fully met. If you are in drug court, is there some other charge that is also pending?

Chaumont Reply

Posted Jan 14, 2018 at 18:47:29

I had a charge for Hindering Apprehension of a fugative in 2008. The person was picked up in another state and served their time. My case was dead docket in 2009. So should it still be on my record? And what should I do if it is still there. I tried reaching Hing the clerk but they always tell me she’s not in to leave a message. And she never returns the call. I’m seeking employment and my background seems to be the hold up for several offers

lori Reply

Posted Jan 22, 2018 at 16:09:12

I was arrested April2015 for possession of drugs and firearms, I had a passenger in my car that had all the items in his bags and I was un aware of what was in them. I have not spoken to my court appointed attorney at all, I am currently serving the rest of my parole from a previous charge in prison, I have tried to contact the appropriate authorities asking about what my charges are and for a speedy trial. I have had no contact from anyone, my mother has received 4 letters stating trial dates and that I have entered a not guilty plea, but I have not appeared in court for this matter.
can you explain this to me and what should I be expecting? sense I am currently serving the rest of my parole time and my max out date is 2019, could I have a chance of this counting as time served, or will I get arrested as soon as I’m released? also, is it a normal thing for the court appointed attorney or anyone else for that matter, to never contact me on this case?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jan 23, 2018 at 11:35:33

It is unfortunate that you have not been brought back to court or had an opportunity to speak to your appointed counsel.

You might speak to your counselor and see if there is any way to arrange a phone conference with that lawyer.

The risk you have is that you are not brought back to court until your sentence is complete and the prosecutor then wants you to serve more time on the new charges instead of the case being run concurrently now.

You may be able to make a request through the warden’s office for the detainer to be addressed from the trial court.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jan 23, 2018 at 11:36:39

A dead docketed case can continue to appear on your criminal record. Only by filing a motion for records restriction and being successful on that motion can you move the case off of your record.

Steve Reply

Posted Jan 23, 2018 at 17:04:03

Sean. It recently came to my attention through a job application that I have a dead docket case in Clayton County GA from an arrest I had in 1978 for felony (just over 1 ounce) possession of marijuana. I was pretty young at the time and had good reason to believe it had been taken care of by my attorney. I didnt even know until 2 weeks ago that I had even been charged with a felony. I’ve spoken to someone in the DAs office and he has assured me that he is going to initiate an Administrative Dismissal. My new job is riding on this. Is there anything else I need to so to make this go away? Funny thing though I’ve been background checked twice by the Federal Government and this has never come up.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Feb 07, 2018 at 07:28:54

It is good that the District Attorney’s Office intends to dismiss it. That may still show as an arrest. You may want to ask them about it being dismissed and restricted.

T. Brown Reply

Posted Feb 28, 2018 at 19:03:51

I have a relative that is going through a similar situation where you responded below to someone else’s question. Her criminal record shows she was charged for attempted robbery but no formal evidence has been found and she’s currently out on a signature bond. It’s been over a year and her mom is continuing to pay legal fees for billable hours which is to the attorney to keep going to the courthouse weekly to see if there has been formal charges placed. Is there anything that can be done to close the case or place so she can move in with her life and find a job? Currently she cannot find work because the charge is showing on her background.

The statute of limitations is four years. It is possible that the prosecutor’s office either has not decided what to do with your case or has decided not to prosecute it but did not put that decision onto the record. It doesn’t sound like a very good case, but you never can tell. It depends on the particular prosecutor’s office whether it makes sense to say anything at this stage. You certainly don’t want to poke a sleeping bear and end up having to defend yourself in court. Waiting out the statute of limitations may be your best choice.

Charlie Che Reply

Posted Mar 04, 2018 at 18:51:12

Hi Mr. Sean,

I am hoping you can help out. I was arrested in October 2001 for simple battery. I was charged with simple battery and the case was dead docketed. I just called Futon county policy and court departments and they confirmed that the case is dead docketed.

It has been 16 years. I am trying to become a US citizen and do need the case to be dismissed. What are my options? It has been 16 years. Is there no time limit after which a simple battery charge withers away on its own.

I am no longer in Atlanta. Please advise as to what my options are and what my next steps should be.

I really appreciate your help.

Best Regards,


Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Mar 05, 2018 at 03:56:44

You can directly or by a lawyer located in Atlanta (I am not) ask the prosecutor’s office to dismiss the charge and have the arrest restricted.

Richard Reply

Posted Mar 24, 2018 at 07:23:32

Greetings Mr. Black,

My case was dead docketed some time ago, approximately 10 years. It is a sad and pathetic case. It involves a couple of family members, which destroyed our family. My brother to be exact. It drove him even more insane that no one believed him and cut off all contact with him. My question specifically is am I entitled even now to have information from all sources given to me? I know fighting the court system is generally an exercise in futility, unless you have a lot of money. However, I would like to put everything into a book form and go from there. If GA wants to change the status after that and attempt to prosecute, I will gladly join them in the court room, I wanted to from the beginning but was never given any kind of choice. I was kept in jail for 9 months, without bail. Most of my civil rights were violated. Even in jail denying someone access to water and a toilet is heinous at best. Anyway, if they want the people involved my brother, a career criminal is sitting in jail in Key West, FL, possibly going away for more than 20 years. Another member of his family intricate to this is also in prison. So it would be great to have them brought from their current residences to a court room in chains to testify. Anyway, I’m rambling, back to the point, can I get court records, prosecutor’s files, public defender, etc? If so do I have to pay for this as the defendant, or is at least one copy given to me as a matter of constitution?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Mar 26, 2018 at 05:13:43

Dead docketed cases are public records. Unless there is an order sealing the record, you are entitled to review the court filings. Given the amount of time that has passed, it would be hard to see this as an open case, so the prosecutor’s and law enforcement agency’s records should be available through open records act requests. If the public defender represented you, you should be entitled to a copy of your file. The Constitution, federal or Georgia, does not have a direct influence on your question.

Mary Reply

Posted Apr 17, 2018 at 10:57:27

My husband has a case that was put on the dead docket back in August 2017 for child molestation. It was a false accusation, and they dead docketed the case because the only evidence they had was the person’s statement, who refused to testify in court. Without their testimony, the court was unable to prosecute the case. Instead of dismissing it, they put it on the dead docket. This has severely limited his ability to find a job here in Georgia, and he cannot live with me in my apartment because of his “pending” felony charge. I recently secured a new job in Baton Rouge, LA, and we are wondering if he is going to face the same kind of discrimination from employers and housing authorities there because of this dead docketed case. How do other states understand or view the Georgia dead docket? We cannot move to have it restricted until September of this year, but we were made to understand that that will also be difficult to get done. We just want to know if this might keep haunting us in another state that does not have the dead docket. Any thoughts from you are greatly appreciated.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Apr 17, 2018 at 11:42:44

I am sorry, but I am unable to tell you how Lousiana or any other state will deal with this on his record. After August of 2018, he may be able to ask that the record be restricted.

Kerri Sizemore Reply

Posted Apr 18, 2018 at 12:28:22

In 2004 a friend of mine was waiting trail, he spent 2 years in the county until sentencing on a murder charge and aggravated robbery, 2 questions here.. does a murder charge over ride all charges, meaning life is 14 years for the murder charge and aggravated robbery is 20 years? And his 2 years he waited for trail he didnt get credited for? What is the law here? Ty in advance

Nicole Smith Reply

Posted Apr 25, 2018 at 04:46:36

My boyfriend have been locked up since February this year and no bond hes charged wit battery assault on me and cruelty to children in the 3rd degree. Information on the police report is incorrect. Pregnant women im not pregnant and stab in the abdomen. It was a rip of the skin by my pelvic way on the side of me. Didn’t need any stitches nor surgery. I gave his attorney the hospital papers and negative pregnant paper and non abdomen stab papers. Im helping him with this important information because it was an accident. Can he have this a dead docket case since his attorney haven’t even spoke to him since he been arrested only when he went to court and he still couldn’t approach the judge or come out because of her non communication with my boyfriend. This case is weak. False report attorney isnt on her game he has no bond. What to do?

Michelle Thompson Reply

Posted May 18, 2018 at 09:58:30

Back in 2014 I was working at Loomis (Money Armour Place) and several people were fired because of money missing and I was one of them. We we’re all arrest. My case has been dead docket seeing I was arrested because they didn’t know which employee it was so we were all penalized. They have no evidence. What steps do I need to take to get this removed or seal??

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 22, 2018 at 08:00:25

You probably need to do an actual consultation about this issue. You may be able to request restriction of the record based on it being dead docketed for more than a year. However, that might prompt the prosecutor to re-visit the issue of whether or not to prosecute.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 22, 2018 at 08:02:22

A request to dead docket is entirely up to the judge or the prosecutor. More typically, it is a prosecutor who requests a dead docket. It sounds like this case is still an active prosecution, and that is where the focus should be.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 22, 2018 at 08:05:52

In general, a person is given credit for all time served on a charge while waiting trial. Only if he were being held on an unrelated charge would the time not count toward the conviction.

Without a copy of the sentence, it would not be possible for me to tell you which charge would override for determining earliest date for consideration for parole. It is worth noting that most people convicted of murder are not granted parole on their first eligibility date. If the robbery charge is non-paroleable for some reason, then that would delay the consideration for parole.

Bryan Reply

Posted May 29, 2018 at 17:25:43

I was arrested back in 2003 for possession of over an ounce Marijuana in Rome GA, the court assigned a lawyer and I was told to plead guilty so I would get a first time offender not a felony. I was young and trusted my lawyer and I received a Felony. This has stayed on my record for the past 15 years and has stripped me of my voting rights and hunting with a firearm. I’m a citizen of the United States. What are the chances of getting my rights back to hunt with a firearm as I just want to hunt with my friends?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 30, 2018 at 04:18:49

You may be eligible to apply for a pardon and restoration of firearms rights from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. If you have had nothing else on your record, you may be eligible.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 30, 2018 at 09:07:59

If you received a first offender act or conditional discharge sentence, you should not have a felony conviction unless you had a major violation of probation and were adjudicated guilty during the sentence.

If you do have a conviction, you may look into filing for a pardon and restoration of firearms rights.

Timothy singleton Reply

Posted Aug 20, 2018 at 18:16:11

I was locked up in 2012 my case got pit on deaddocket and i wont to move to a nother state but i was locked up for rap and Thay cant prove nothing and i did not do nothing but my name is slandetd and i cant get a job or nothing i wont to move to better my life and be with my gf but i need to know what i can do can you give me some advice as to what i can do plz and thank you

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Aug 21, 2018 at 05:02:33

Taking a stab at it. This charge was dead docketed because you were incarcerated on another charge. When you were released from prison, there was not a detainer and you moved to another state. No action has been taken on your dead docketed case. The question is whether the prosecutor has any interest in pursuing the dead docketed case now that you are out. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to address this for you with the prosecutor. You should choose someone who is local to that area and has familiarity with the prosecutor.

Lily Levitt Reply

Posted Sep 06, 2018 at 12:56:23

My husband was arrested for felony theft in July, 2012. He was convicted of conversion and the case is on the dead docket in Fulton County. Can this record be expunged?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Sep 07, 2018 at 04:40:29

Your post is a little confusing. A case that has a conviction is not dead docketed. You would need to have a lawyer review the criminal history. With very rare exceptions, a conviction cannot be expunged.

R.B Reply

Posted Sep 23, 2018 at 17:51:05

Great article! I have a quick question if you have a minute.

I was arrested in 2000 for VGCSA. I was offered and completed Pretrial intervention in 2002. Thinking my case was dismissed, when buying a firearm this year, I was denied during the NICS background check as they say I have a pending felony case. I pulled my criminal history at the GBI and it is showing as dead docketed – deferred. Did someone drop the ball on filing for dismissal? Was it me?

Thank you!

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Oct 04, 2018 at 09:12:30

I would say, but not repeat to the prosecutors, that the prosecutors dropped the balll. Go back to them either directly or through your prior attorney and ask politely that it be dismissed.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Oct 08, 2018 at 09:56:30

You will probably need to contact the District Attorney’s Office and request a dismissal and restriction of the old case. A dead docketed case is technically still active; it is just not on the trial calendar.

Madison bell Reply

Posted Oct 26, 2018 at 11:31:42

I was arrested about a year ago I was working at Walmart I was newly hired and hadn’t been trained on a register some girls came in in the gardening section where I worked and rung them up they had gift cards and used credit cards for me to load the gift cards I really thought I was doing my job later to find out Walmart said I knew the people and arrested me at work later that night I was jus 18 my first job they let the people that did it go and arrested me my whole life has changed because of this I went to court but my case was dead docket they never persued the actual criminals which were the girls that came in the store I never seen them a day in my life and I can’t understand why this happened to me

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Oct 29, 2018 at 08:00:50

If it has been more than a year since the dead docket order, you may be eligible for the record to be restricted. The better course would be to go back and seek a dismissal and restriction of the records.


Posted Nov 08, 2018 at 18:01:49

My husband was given a citation for a suspended registration. The car is in my name and when I paid the fine before suspension, I actually overpaid. I am waiting on a refund from DOR still. It was never unregistered. When he went to court they put it on the dead docket and told him if he gets a speedy ticket within a year they could reopen it.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Nov 09, 2018 at 05:42:33

It is an offense to drive a vehicle with a suspended registration, even if you are not the person responsible for the registration. Sounds like the court did a wait and see on the case. When he reaches the one year mark, I would have it on my calendar to go back and ask that it be dismissed.

Sherrie Reply

Posted Nov 09, 2018 at 18:25:39

In April 2018, my son was arrested for Identity Fraud.
They lessened the charge to a misdemeanor of Theft by Taking.
In September 2018, he had his trial. The case was dismissed. He went to the DA’s office to get his paper that shows the case was dismissed and the paper says that his case is dead docket. How can that be if the judge said his case was dismissed?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Nov 11, 2018 at 10:52:12

All I can tell you is that the documents filed in the case control. If you think this was in error, you would have to track down the court reporter for the day that the dismissal was announced and obtain a copy of the transcript for that day.

Alternatively, he can request the prosecuting attorney to file a dismissal. If the prosecution is willing to dismiss it, that would save some time and expense.

Marie Reply

Posted Nov 13, 2018 at 19:42:16

I was charged with 18 counts of computer forgery and obtaining dangerous drugs. I was working at a pharmacy..the meds were steroid creams a hormone and antibiotic..the case didint go to trial for 2 was put on the dead has been 13 years…can I restrict the files? The DA wrote me a letter saying it’s in dead docket…but it shows up on my background.i am certified for the pharmacy…can I do anything?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 06:59:04

Dead docket is not a final disposition of the case. Your best path forward would be to request the district attorney to dismiss the case based on it having been 13 years with no other issues. You should also ask that the record be restricted. Otherwise, it will remain pending and can show on your record.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 07:00:25

Unfortunately, some courts may use the word dismissal to refer to a dead docket order. It is not a dismissal, because it simply takes it off the active trial calendar.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Dec 06, 2018 at 11:47:03

You can speak to a lawyer in Atlanta about making contact with the Solicitor’s Office about clearing this up. As stated on the page, what needs to be done is for the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the case so that it will be closed.

You may also want to take a look at the Fulton County Solicitor’s Office website. (Sorry no links in comments, but Google should get you there). It has a link on the left side about their expungement/records restriction program. That may get you in contact with the right people.

Jessica Jackson Reply

Posted Dec 20, 2018 at 09:17:29

I recently applied for a concealed carry permit, and was denied due to an arrest 30 years ago. I contacted the courthouse and was told that the case was still open. The young lady indicated that the I wasn’t charged at the time and that it has been in dead docket status since 1989. I am wondering if I’m a candidate to request record restriction or should just leave it alone. Thanks in advance.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Dec 20, 2018 at 09:19:22

Without knowing the details, I would still lean toward your being a candidate. I am curious as to why it was dead docketed.

Jessica Jackson Reply

Posted Dec 20, 2018 at 09:34:56

I was overseas (military) when the case was presented. I actually thought the charges had been dropped until applying for the permit. Thank you for your prompt reply.

Zack Chewning Reply

Posted Apr 28, 2019 at 15:47:42

I was arrested for possession of meth and various other misdemeanor charges on 8/16/17 and posted bond. I had a hold from another county for probation violation. I went to prison for probation violation and was released on 2/7/19 still presumably on bond. My question is having heard nothing about a court date for the possession charge is it my responsibility to contact the court or will they contact me?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Apr 29, 2019 at 05:16:40

If you do nothing, then there is a chance that you will have some interaction with the police in the future where they end up holding you for the 8/16/17 charge.

On the other hand, if you make contact yourself, you might find out that there is a bench warrant out for you, even if it should not have been issued because you were in custody. In that case, you will be held to go before the judge who will likely lift the warrant because you were in custody when the warrant was issued.

If the jurisdiction has an online docket, you may be able to look and find out what is going on with your case.

Your other option is to talk to a lawyer who practices in that jurisdiction and see what they can find out. If there is a warrant, the lawyer may be able to work that out since it should not have been issued.

Cali Reply

Posted Sep 18, 2019 at 01:04:47

So I was in hospital pregnant in pain and nurse seen like en empty ish bag of method my bag. Cop came and never talked to me but did to my mom and I’m 22, they leave. And my mom says they not arresting me. I get out and a week later they come to her house with a warrant for my arrest for poss of meth. But I had moved to wa to be with my man so I just stayed out there for 2 years. I checked website it’s says case motion for dead docket at end of 2018. My first felony and drug related. I’ve only had one misdemeanor for wreckless driving and never finished probation from like 4 or more years ago. I’m scared to go deal.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Sep 18, 2019 at 06:40:44

Your dead docket order was probably preceded by a bench warrant order, meaning that the case will likely be reinstated once you are in custody. It sounds like there may also be a violation of probation warrant out there.

As an attorney, my advice has to be to turn yourself in. There are court orders for your arrest. These cases will not go away until they are dealt with.

You can either deal with them on your schedule or on someone else’s. If you do not turn yourself in, you are subject to arrest if the original jurisdictions learn where you are and send your now local law enforcement to pick you up. But, the more typical way this plays out is you get stopped while driving or as a passenger or as a witness to some crime and it is learned who you are and that you are wanted. Then, you go to jail and wait for Georgia to come pick you up and transport you back to Georgia and sit in jail there until the cases are sorted out.

If you are willing to come back and face the music, then an attorney may be able to help you work these cases out, although many prosecutors will not negotiate your case until you are in custody.

Tony Evans Reply

Posted Nov 10, 2019 at 21:31:51

IF have a Dead Docket issue. I was arrested and falsely accused of theft by taking in March of 1998. I was released on my own recognizance by the judge during arraignment after explaining to him the circumstances that led of to my arrest.

I hired a lawyer and met with the county solicitor, who stated that if I paid $5000.00 in restitution, the charges against me would be dropped.

She though they had an opened/closed case against me until I produce a copy of a letter I mailed to my former employer, requesting him to provide me with a receipt of the equipment I purchased from him that he alleged was stolen in addition to my 1997 W-2. I also produced a check stub with the former employer’s handwritten notation that he deducted monies for equipment I purchased. He had agreed to sell me the used equipment for $500.00

The solicitor was stunned by evidence and stated that she needed to do further investigation and would get back to me through my lawyer.

It was also during that same period that my wife had filed divorce papers, and a month later, I received news that a younger sister of mine was found murdered in the the state of South Carolina.

It was also during this time where my future ex-wife had file charges of child molestation against me which led to my arrest and a 2 year period of trails, hearings, in both civil and criminal courts of Mecklenburg County, as well as court ordered forensic psychological evaluations.

To say the least I was a bit distracted. It wasn’t until 2013 that my mechanic located in Gwinnette county was test driving my car that he was pulled over by an officer after reading the license plate that there was a warrant for my arrest for failure to appear in court.

I never received any communication from the lawyer of such a warrant nor that he had asked to be dismissed from the case.

I prevailed in both civil and criminal cases and ended up with non-reviewable permanent custody of my 2 children.

I have never been charged or convicted of any felony crimes prior to 1998, nor have I been charged and convicted since then.

What are my options in going about clearing this matter up in Cobb County Georgia, where my former employer is a well known corporate citizen?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Nov 11, 2019 at 07:17:43

It sounds like you have had an eventful period in your life.

I hope that you still have the documentation that you describe.

I think your first step would be to go back to the attorney you originally hired on this Cobb County theft case. If that person is no longer available, then you should hire a Cobb County criminal defense attorney. If you need a referral, send me a contact form instead of a comment, and I will respond back by email.

It is hard to imagine that the successor prosecuting attorney will be interersted in pursuing such an old case, but you never know and you do need this cleared up.

Ben Smith Reply

Posted Feb 24, 2020 at 10:55:17

Can a dead docket be reported on a background report is the charges are over 7 years old?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Feb 25, 2020 at 08:07:51

There is no Georgia law forbidding the reporting the dead docketed case regardless of how long it has been in that state.

charles m Reply

Posted Mar 10, 2020 at 03:23:46

I have a case that has been ongoing since 2011. I was accused of theft. They got the indictment trough accusation. The case was placed on dead docket in 2015 for 24 months. The DA said the case would be dismissed if I was not in any trouble. The case was then placed back on the calendar claiming new evidence but no new evidence have been given to my lawyer. The DA said they don’t want to try my case but since it is the State of Georgia case they can’t drop it. Please provide me with any help.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Mar 10, 2020 at 05:34:22

If you have an attorney representing you, it would be better for you to discuss the case with him or her.

If there was a deal and you met your part of it, it may be that the deal can be enforced.

I am not clear on the description of “State of Georgia case.” Any felony case is a case by the State against the defendant. Maybe you are saying that the alleged victim is the State of Georgia?

At a certain point, your attorney can file a motion for discharge and acquittal based on constitutional speedy trial issues. This depends on your having appeared when noticed and not asking for continuances, along with other factors.

The District Attorney is fully empowered to dismiss any case which they accuse or indict.

O K Reply

Posted Mar 12, 2020 at 00:03:16

I had a warrant out issued by Douglas County, GA and subsequently got detained 6 month later during traffic incident in Atlanta. I was allegedly charged with First degree Felony forgery and Theft by deception ($3K). The judge granted me bond (total of 6K) and I ended paying $900 to the bonding company. Soon after ICE picked me up with an old pending deportation order. I spent time in ICE (10 months to be exact) and eventually got deported overseas without attending my upcoming court date with the county. I’ve hired a local lawyer, gave her paperwork showing my deportation has been executed by the US government. I was told my case has been dead docketed. Does it mean dismissal? Can I have my lawyer file a motion to dismiss with no prejudice once for all after 12 months? I need this charge off my records in order to come back legally. Thank you in advance!

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Mar 23, 2020 at 06:30:11

Dead docket means the case is still active but is not on a trial calendar.

It will not come off your record, and CIS will likely use it as a reason to deny any applications for re-entry.

Josh Reply

Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:16:43


I was arrested for a minor shoplifting incident over a year ago. I was released the next day ROR, and they said I would receive paper work in the mail as to when to appear for my court date. I have not heard anything from them. I have not changed addresses, and when I call to check they can never tell me information. Any advice?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 28, 2020 at 06:14:44

How shoplifting warrants are processed varies by county and court. If your case is in a court (Superior or State) where accusations must be drafted, the warrant would have gone to the Solicitor or District Attorney of the court for that to be done. The prosecutors take varying amounts of time to process those.

In the meantime, until the clerk receives the accusation for filing from the prosecutor, the clerk has no information to give.

Your best advice is to wait patiently and hope that the statute of limitations of two years goes past. With the coronavirus judicial emergency, that will be extended some number of months, If you move, notify the clerk of your new mailing address. Otherwise, no news is good news.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jun 22, 2020 at 06:19:13

A dead docket could cause a problem with a firearms check, because it is viewed as an active case. It is active in that it does not have a final resolution.

First offender act treatment is a different thing than dead docket. That is a sentence that if you complete successfully leads to a permanent and full dismissal of the charges.

Delisa Reply

Posted Oct 18, 2020 at 11:22:26

i was convicted in 1993 of first degree forgery in Georgia and placed on 10 years probation. In 2001, after release from a Florida prison and Georgia prison a warrant was issued for Violation of Probation. The Georgia Dept. of Corrections has destroyed all the files related to my time served. The Clerk of Court does not have a record of me ever appearing for this Violation and being sent to prison. I was incarcerated in Florida Prison since 2001 and they will not extradite me as the Warrant has an expiration date on it. Does that mean the case is dead docketed?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Oct 19, 2020 at 06:44:28

It likely is in the dead docket, but the facts you describe does not mean that it has to be. In any case, even if it is in dead docket status, there can still be an active bench warrant to bring you back before the court. Upon your being back in custody of the court, then the case would be moved from the dead docket to the active status. You probably need someone to check the case file in the court to see what the actual status is.

Robin Reply

Posted Nov 05, 2020 at 11:29:34

Hi Sean, I have multiple (misdemeanor) cases in the DeKalb County online court system listed as “Open” in Court: “State Prefile,” with Case Type: “Solicitor S Case.” I know I was sentenced and completed the terms in Dunwoody for at least one of the cases listed, which makes me believe these should be closed. I am concerned because I am applying to grad school and I want to be clear about the status of my cases when disclosing my background. Can you clarify a bit for me, why these cases are still listed online as open? Thanks for your help.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Nov 05, 2020 at 11:47:29

I do not regularly deal with the DeKalb County courts so you probably should reach out to someone that does.

However, to me, this means that the cases are at a warrant phase and physically at the Solicitor’s Office for review and consideration for accusation. Accusation would move the cases formally onto the court’s active docket. Misdemeanors have a statute of limitations period of two years. The Solicitor can take that full time to make a charging decision.

An attorney who deals with misdemeanor cases in DeKalb County may be able to reach out to the Solicitor’s office to seek resolution of the matters before an accusation is filed.

B Reply

Posted Jan 26, 2021 at 23:08:21

I am having issues locating my friend. I was writing him while he was in the Richmond County DC and taking phone calls. I was also able to put money on his account. However, now he is no longer listed as a recipient on my online account, and I can no longer look him up on the site. A family member told me that he was transferred but I haven’t gotten a specific location. His case management page states that his case was “DEAD DOCKETED” in November 2020, around the time he was said to be transferred. I just want to know how to locate him. I have searched multiple GA jail inmate searches as well as the Federal inmate search, but I have not been able to locate him nor his co-defendant.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jan 27, 2021 at 04:54:22

Have you tried the Georgia Department of Corrections Inmate Locator? It will work unless his sentence is under the First Offender Act or the conditional discharge statute. If it is under one of those protected statuses, you will have to wait to hear from him.

Melissa Reply

Posted Mar 29, 2021 at 12:09:25

I went through the first offenders programs back in 2021 and successfully completed the program. I ran my background report and the arrest did not show up, however I have to get fingerprinted for a job and I’m nervous it will show up. Can you advise if indeed the arrest will appear when and FBI fingerprinting is conducted?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Mar 30, 2021 at 07:16:09

What shows on a particular background check is a function of the purpose code used on the background check. Some background checks for criminal justice purposes or for anti-terrorism related employment will be able to see the arrest and dismissal. That usually means you have to provide an explanation and tell what rehabilitation you have completed.

Chris Nesbit Reply

Posted Apr 04, 2021 at 13:04:24

I have a dead docket case preventing me from being able to purchase a firearm in Oregon. The case was from 2002. It was for possession of marijuana w/intent to distribute. I was arrested with half an ounce. Silly, I know. Is there anything that I can do to obtain an expungement for this? Surely, the cannabis laws have changed by now and that would be nothing more than a fine.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Apr 05, 2021 at 06:34:47

A records restriction will not help you. It is likely already restricted based on time without disposition, but that does not restrict it for criminal justice purposes, including firearms background checks. You likely need a lawyer familiar with the jurisdiction where the old case is dead docketed.

Thomas Reply

Posted May 25, 2021 at 15:27:44

Hey Sean, I had a state case from 2018 that turned into an indictment by the feds in 2019. When the feds picked up my case the state put their case on the dead docket. I did 3 months in the county jail when I was arrested. I was under the impression when I got sentenced by the feds that those 3 months would be credited towards my Federal sentence. But I’m not sure since my case was placed on the dead docket? Also does a case on a dead docket still show as a pending charge? Because I believe that will stop me from going to a federal halfway house at the end of my sentence and serving my time at a Federal camp. How long would it take to get a case removed from the dead docket? I self surrender in 2 weeks. Thanks.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted May 26, 2021 at 05:47:29

You may or may not have been entitled to credit for time served on the state warrant, but that ship has likely sailed. Whatever credit you were given as part of the sentence has been determined. Beyond that, it is up to Bureau of Prisons’ policy.

If you had a lawyer on the state warrant, you should consider reaching out to them about trying to get that warrant nolle prossed since you have now been convicted and sentenced on the federal case. That assumes the state warrant was for the same conduct that the feds picked up. If the state case is not dismissed, it will show as an open case. If it remains so, you should challenge the detainer through your counselor at the federal facility once you are in custody. It may or may not force the issue but if not responded to, it should lift the hold as far as BOP is concerned.

Sarah Reply

Posted Jun 23, 2021 at 11:21:39

my boyfriend got arrested on march 24th 2020 for statutory rape and child porography. However my parents didnt press charges. I was 15 and pregnant and he was 19 now im 16 and he is 21. His case inquiry states the case was disposed but hes still in jail. What happens now? Will he still be able to talk to me since we have a baby together

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Jun 23, 2021 at 11:34:20

The State could pursue the charges even if your parents did not wish to press charges.

Disposed does not necessarily mean dismissed. It usually does not mean dead docketed. It more often means that there was a plea or a trial and a sentence. A sentence would be consistent with his continuing to be in jail. If he is under a sentence, the sentence would specify whether or not he could have contact with you.

I would have expected you to have been contacted by the Victim-Witness Advocate of the District Attorney’s Office relative to the prosecution of the case.

The facts you describe would be felony statutory rape under Georgia law.

Ventus Grant Reply

Posted Aug 22, 2021 at 09:59:12

I have a case that has 2 charges of theft by taking. The case has been on and off the calendar since 2011. The case was placed on dead docket at one time over the years and then put back on the active calendar. The case is continued over and over by the DA. There has to be a way to get this case dismissed. The constitutional rights has to be illegal in this case. Over 120 months and the case is allowed to keep being continued.

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Aug 23, 2021 at 05:54:54

I cannot comment on an individual case for which I have not done a reasonable investigation.

Paul Bailey Reply

Posted Aug 25, 2021 at 19:21:11

I have a case that is showing up as a Dead Docket, and I am unable to purchase a firearm because of it. The case is from 2011. We are told that the case is closed but the DA and the Records office will not provide me with that information. Can your office help me!

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Aug 26, 2021 at 05:30:28

What we have here is a failure to communicate. The DA and the Clerk consider the case closed because it is dead docketed. The FBI, GBI, etc., consider it active because there is not a final disposition. A final disposition could be a conviction and sentence or a nolle prossequi (dismissal). You may need an attorney familiar with the particular court to assist in getting the case moved off of the dead docket and dismissed.

James Lowe Reply

Posted Sep 03, 2021 at 10:10:39

I was arrested February 16, 2016 and charged with Disorderly Conduct and Cruelty to Children 3rd Degree (Misdemeanors). However, I applied to various employment opportunities after completion of probation which resulted in 6 Felonies. I hired an Attorney in 2021 and criminal record now states 2 Misdemeanors. Can I sue the DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office for placing the false 6 felonies on my criminal record for 6 years?

Sean A. Black Reply

Posted Sep 07, 2021 at 05:33:27

Pretty doubtful. You are describing a possible federal civil rights violation, but the time lines suggest that the time for such action (2 years from the occurrence) has expired. In addition, the most likely explanation for the occurrence is negligence which is typically not enough to support such a claim. You should consult with someone who handles that area of the law, but I would not get my hopes up.

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