Can a misdemeanor be expunged in the state of Georgia? The answer is yes, depending on the circumstances. Expungement in GA is a fairly straightforward and simple process, and the state is among the most liberal when it comes to getting minor things removed from your public criminal history profile. While not every misdemeanor can be removed in Georgia, many of them can, and you do not even need an attorney to have those records hidden from public view. You can do it all on your own if your particular case meets the requirements for misdemeanor expungement in the state of Georgia.
Getting a Misdemeanor Expunged in Georgia: Do You Qualify?
First and most importantly, in order to get a misdemeanor removed from your criminal history in Georgia, you must not have been convicted of the crime. Convictions may not be removed, unless they were indeed misdemeanors and they were committed before you were age 21. Cases that went to trial where you were found innocent are also ineligible for expungement. If neither of these situations applies to you, then you may be able to get misdemeanor expungement in Georgia.
Requirements for Misdemeanor Removal in Qualifying Cases
Even with cases where you were not convicted or found innocent at trial, there are certain conditions you must meet in order to remove the misdemeanor from your record. For example, cases that were dismissed or not prosecuted can be removed from your record as long as you haven’t committed a similar crime in the past five years and are not on probation at the time you request removal. If your case was formally charged (meaning your case received a number in the court system) but never pursued by a prosecutor, you can get the record expunged after 12 months. If the case was never formally charged, you can have it removed right away.
Expunge Misdemeanor in Georgia: What Does it Mean for You?
When you get a misdemeanor removed from your record, it is sealed from public view. This means that potential employers, landlords, and anyone else who might want to know your criminal history will not be able to see the misdemeanor on your record. However, the records will sometimes still show up in private background investigations, so if you believe someone is going to perform that kind of investigation on you, it is best to admit to the misdemeanor up front, so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to hide anything later. Law enforcement agencies and courts can still see these otherwise hidden records. What removing a record will do for you is make it easier for you to pass basic computer background checks, so you will not be denied employment or housing based on a conviction (or even acquittal) for a minor offense.
Misdemeanor Expungement in Georgia: How to Do It
If you believe you can get your misdemeanor removed, doing so is a fairly easy process, though it will require some patience. Here is how you do it:
1. First, go to the arresting agency that charged you, and request an application for expungement. The agency will have these applications available for you. Take it home and fill it out completely. Don’t leave out any information on the application. The more complete your application is, the better chance you’ll have of it being approved.
2. Take the application back to the arresting agency once you have filled it out completely. The arresting agency will send it to the attorney that prosecuted your case. It is up to that attorney to decide if you qualify to have the misdemeanor removed from your record.
3. Wait six to 12 months for the attorney to get to your application. Attorneys are over-worked these days and have a lot of other cases and issues to attend to before they get to your application. But you can be sure they will get to it eventually. Just have patience. Once the attorney reviews your application, he or she will either approve or deny it.
4. The application will be sent back to the arresting agency, and they will send it back to you. If your application was approved, send it to the Georgia Crime Information Center along with a money order for $25 to process the removal of the misdemeanor from your records. That’s all you have to do. The misdemeanor will be removed shortly after the Georgia Crime Information Center receives your approved application and money order. If your application was denied, you can appeal it within 30 days of the denial. You never know….it may be approved upon a second look by the prosecuting attorney, especially if you include additional information as to why you should get the record removed in your appeal.
Getting a Misdemeanor Expunged in the State of Georgia: Some Final Advice
Even if you’re not sure if you qualify to get your record cleared of the misdemeanor, it is always a good idea to try it, anyway. Getting that misdemeanor out of the public view can only help you and make your life simpler. If all else fails, you can apply to the governor for a pardon. However, if you’re a first-time offender, have had no legal trouble since the misdemeanor, and can show a high likelihood of not repeating the offense, you stand a good chance of success with getting your record expunged in Georgia.