Overview of Georgia Criminal History Record Expungements
Georgia criminal history record expungements only apply to arrests that were subsequently dropped without charges. The state of Georgia offers two procedural paths to expungement of your arrest record: 1) if your arrest was never referred to the state prosecutor or 2) the state prosecutor dismissed your case without seeking an indictment. State law requires the original prosecuting attorney to sign off on all Georgia criminal history record expungements. Learn more below.
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UPDATED: Dec 14, 2020
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Georgia law allows for the expungement (or purging) of criminal arrest records. Note that the terms “expungement” and “purging” are used interchangeably in Georgia.
The state of Georgia offers two procedural paths to expungement of your arrest record. Which one may be applicable for you simply depends on the circumstances of your case. You can request an expungement if:
- You were arrested for any offenses under state law, but after arrest were released by the arresting agency without the offense being referred to the state prosecutor, or
- You were arrested and your case was referred to the prosecutor, but the prosecutor dismissed without seeking indictment or filing an accusation.
What this means is that under Georgia law, if you were convicted of the crime you were arrested for, you cannot have that conviction expunged. Georgia expungement applies only to arrests that were subsequently dropped without charges.
The Request for Expungement in Georgia must follow a particular format and procedure. See our article Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Georgia for more information.
Note that the arresting agency and the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) may charge you up to $50 for all reasonable costs of expungement.
Georgia requires the original prosecuting attorney to sign off on record expungements before the GCIC actually completes the task of expunging records. Once this is done, the agency that arrested you is required to destroy fingerprint cards, photographs, and documents relating to your arrest. It must also notify the GCIC of exactly which records were expunged, and the GCIC must restrict access to your criminal history in accordance with the arresting agency’s new records: namely those which are kept confidential and accessible only to judicial & law enforcement officials, and only for restricted law enforcement and investigation purposes.
If the arresting agency denies your request to expunge an arrest record, you have the right to file an action in the Superior Court with jurisdiction over the agency. The arresting agency’s decision to deny your expungement request will be overturned if you can show that your case meets allof the following criteria:
- Your charge was properly dismissed,
- No other criminal charges are pending against you, and
- You were not previously convicted of the same or similar offense anywhere in the U.S. within the last five years.
If an indictment or accusation was filed, then your record cannot be expunged ifthe charges were dead-docketed or otherwise dismissed because of any of the following reasons:
- A plea agreement resulting in a conviction for an offense arising out of the same underlying event/occurrence,
- The government was barred from introducing admissible and material evidence against you, e.g. – because of a motion in limine,
- A material witness refused or was unavailable to testify,
- You were incarcerated on other criminal charges and the prosecutor decided not to prosecute those charges for time- and money-saving reasons,
- You successfully completed a pretrial diversion program, and the terms of the program did not provide for expungement of the arrest record,
- Your conduct that resulted in your arrest was part of a pattern of criminal activity that was prosecuted elsewhere in the U.S. or in any foreign nation, or
- You have diplomatic, consular or other immunity or inviolability from arrest or prosecution.
The prosecutor or Georgia state attorney general will always have the right to appeal if your expungement request is granted despite the presence of the one of the above reasons, while you always have the right to appeal if your expungement request is denied despite the absenceof any of the above reasons.
What Does a Georgia Expungement Accomplish?
Despite the numerous requirements for and restrictions on getting your record expunged, Georgia expungement doesn’t provide an absolutely clean slate. Expunging your record in Georgia only removes evidence of your arrest from the Georgia State Police’s public records, so that for private citizens seeking access to your record, such as employers, it will seem as though your arrest never happened, and you’ll be able to go about your life accordingly.
However, getting your record expunged in Georgia is not easy, and not everyone – even those who meet the basic requirements – will get one. See Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Georgia for more details.
Juveniles who are arrested in Georgia typically have fingerprints and photographs on file with the arresting agency, even if the juvenile is subsequently not charged with any crime. If you were arrested as a juvenile in Georgia, and you the case was dropped, dismissed, or you were adjudicated not to be a delinquent, then you are eligible to have your arrest record expunged, including all fingerprint and photograph records on file with the arresting agency.
The procedures for juvenile expungement are the same as those for adult expungement in Georgia. For more details, see our article Expunging Juvenile Adjudication Records in Georgia.
If you have additional questions, or would like to have an attorney take you through the steps for Georgia expungement, contact an experienced Georgia criminal attorney.
For more information on Georgia criminal history record expungements, see the following articles: