Your Guide to the Georgia First Offender Act Expungement
Speak with a trusted Georgia First Offender Act lawyer.
The rules around owning or using a firearm after a criminal offense are complicated. Get the facts on the Georgia First Offender Act Expungement to stay out of trouble.
Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on March 08, 2023.
Understanding the Georgia First Offender Act
Often, people who make mistakes and face legal penalties are willing to take responsibility for their actions and prove they are likely not to re-offend. The Georgia legal system has recognized this and provides first-time offenders with programs to benefit them.
There are several programs that could result in charges getting dismissed, allowing offenders to maintain a clean record. One of these programs is the First Offender Act. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, first offenders may be able to mitigate many of the penalties that come with a criminal conviction, but this advantage is not without its own consequences, including restricted gun rights.
If you have been charged with a crime in Georgia and are interested in exploring your legal options, including being sentenced under the First Offender Act, please contact Philip Kim Law today at (678) 203-6968 for a free consultation. Standing among the top criminal defense lawyers in Metro Atlanta, Mr. Kim will inform you of your rights, guide you through your options.
Georgia First Offender Act Expungement Overview
Georgia’s First Offender Act allows for some first-time offenders to plea guilty or no contests to certain crimes and avoid conviction. You may only be sentenced under the First Offender Act once in your lifetime.
Don’t forget that those who are sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act and had effectively served their sentences, won’t have a conviction on their criminal records. However, to be eligible for a First Offender status, their charges can’t involve drunk driving offenses, serious violent felonies, severe crimes against law enforcement officers, a serious sexual offense, sexual exploitation of a minor, or child pornography.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation states the following: “Per Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60), ‘upon a verdict or plea of guilty or nolo contendere, but before adjudication of guilt, the court may, in the case of a defendant who has not been previously convicted of a felony, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the defendant, defer further proceeding and place the defendant on probation as a first offender.”
Criminal Record Restrictions
If the probationer is discharged following a successful first offender sentence, the charges will be sealed on the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) database, but the information may be available on other sources like court docket books, the website of the arresting agency, as well as third-party vendors.
It is required that GCIC receives official proof that the offender has successfully completed the First Offender Act requirements. The record will not be sealed otherwise, even with the passage of time, but your attorney can help you with this.
Georgia law mandates that GCIC change the sentence to a conviction if the person is arrested or convicted of another offense while still on probation for the first offense, or if the person had previously had First Offender Act treatment. Also, courts may give the FOA sentence if they feel the completion of the program was unsatisfactory or they feel the offender should have a guilty adjudication. Further, GA law is clear about which offenses disqualify a person for employment and this information will be given to prospective employers.
Georgia First Offender Act Expungement Rules
If sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act, following the successful completion of your sentence, the charges will be sealed from your criminal history.
Here is a brief overview of the First Offender Act process:
- You or your attorney must ask for you to be sentenced under the First Offender Act.
- The judge decides to sentence you as a First Offender upon speaking with your attorney and the prosecutor. If he or she denies the request, it cannot be appealed and is final.
- If it is decided you are a First Offender, you will be sentenced as such. “First Offender Act” will go on your official criminal history.
- If there is a violation of the terms like committing another crime, the judge will revoke your status and you will be convicted and may face the maximum punishment for the offense(s).
- Upon successful completion of your probation, an Order of Discharge will be requested by the probation officer.
- The order will be issued by the judge and filed with the court.
- The Clerk of Court will enter it onto your official Georgia criminal history record and then the record of the case will be sealed from most employers.
- Obtain a copy of your GCIC record to ensure the First Offender case no longer appears.
What Is Retroactive First Offender Status?
Every year many people are arrested and convicted for the first time. The whole situation can be terrifying. Whether you are convicted for a misdemeanor or a felony, there may be a way to prevent that one mistake to ruin the rest of your life. Many individuals don’t even know they may pursue First Offender status until years after their misdemeanor or a felony conviction.
But, Georgia also has a retroactive first offender statute. It allows first offenders with felony convictions who could have been eligible for a First Offender status but didn’t know about it, to petition the court retroactively.
Although, they first have to prove they were eligible for First Offender status when they were sentenced and that they weren’t aware of that possibility. In addition, the prosecuting attorney has to approve the request, and then the court will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant First Offender status.
If the status is granted, because of First Offender Act expungement, they can get their criminal record restricted. That means their misdemeanor convictions or felony convictions will be wiped from their records. But, if they are still serving time, they may get their sentences reduced.