If you are under the first offenders law in the state of georgia, is there a felony on your record while you are on probation?

I was working at home depot and i let a few of my friends walk out without paying for their merchandise. That was on Sept 1 2008 in the amount of 414.37. I am a student and i made a terrible mistake…now im trying to find out if i should continue school bc there is no need if i become an convicted felon.

Asked on May 18, 2009 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I assume that you are being represented by an attorney.  If not get one.  Shoplifting an item(s) whose value exceeds $300 is grand theft which is a felony in GA.   You can be incarcerated from 1-10 years.

Obviously since this is a first offense and the this was a non-violent crime that will weigh in your favor.  If represented I assume that your lawyer has tried to get the charges reduced or argue for you to have some form of alternate sentence, deferred adjudication perhaps, if available.  Anyway, as I said, if not yet represented find counsel.

As for "expungement", even with a conviction it might still be available to you.  Again this is something you should confer with your attorney on.  However, while not admitted to practice in GA, my understanding of applicable state law is essentially as follows:

Typically the individual will need to have waited a certain amount of time since the arrest or dismissal, or show that they were simply not convicted.  If convicted they may need to prove that they fulfilled their sentence, did not have prior incidents and are not involved in any current criminal matters.  The court will also take into account the seriousness of the crime committed.  In certain jurisdictions, records may be automatically expunged if the offender was underage at the time.  The expungement will occur when he or she reaches adult age (usually 17 or 18). This allows the individual to have a “clean slate” for their adulthood.

Note: Often times, all records concerning the incidents surrounding the crime can be removed including your arrest, detention and trial.

Finally, don't give up school no matter what happens.  If worse came to worse and this conviction remained on you record you could always explain the circumstances to a potential employer - you were young and stupid and the amount was fairly low; it was a one-time thing and you learned your lesson.  You'd be surprised how understanding some people can be.  It won't work with everybody, and some companies or professions flat out will deny you a job or license.  But all you need is one person to understand.  Unfortunately many of us have either found ourselves or someone close to us in the same situation.

If you think its tough to get a job with a felony conviction that's nothing compared to having a felony and no college education.  You've already made one mistake, don't make another.  Stay in school.


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