Cobb County Expungement Lawyer
Unlike many states, in which you may be able to have eligible criminal records destroyed through expungement, Georgia law does not provide for this option. The only means available to restrict public access to some criminal records is through the record restriction process. Although criminal convictions, except for some youthful misdemeanor convictions, do not qualify for record restriction, a Cobb County expungement lawyer may be able to help you restrict access to some criminal arrest and court records.
Record restriction can be useful to you in some situations, such as where you were arrested for a crime, but never prosecuted. You also may be able to restrict records if you received a verdict of not guilty following a trial on criminal charges. A criminal defense attorney can analyze your criminal background and determine whether any of your records are eligible for restriction from public view.
Qualifying for Cobb County Record Restriction
When criminal records qualify for record restriction, law enforcement authorities do not erase or destroy the records. Instead, they become unavailable for public view, although they remain available for criminal justice agencies and judicial officials to view for law enforcement purposes. Only selected records are eligible for record restriction, and no records of criminal convictions qualify for restriction.
Record restriction may be available in the following situations:
- The prosecutor does not file criminal charges within a specific timeframe following an arrest, which is two years for misdemeanors, four years for non-violent and non-sexual felonies, and seven years for serious, violent, or sexual felonies
- Individuals are found not guilty or acquitted of all charges, or a conviction is reversed or vacated on appeal, and no retrial occurs within two years
- The prosecutor dismisses all charges against the individuals
- Individuals receive a conditional discharge, or they have not committed any crimes for at least five years following minor misdemeanors committed before they turned 21 years of age
Various other circumstances may make some records eligible for restriction, as well. An expungement lawyer in Cobb County may be able to assess whether specific records qualify for restriction from public view.
Exceptions to Record Restrictions
The law provides some exceptions to these general rules on record restriction. For instance, if individuals pled guilty to one reduced charge, and the prosecutor agreed to dismiss all the other original charges, then record restriction is unavailable. Similarly, if the judge ruled that the prosecutor could not use specific evidence at trial, and the prosecutor, therefore, dismissed the charges, then record restriction is unavailable.
Likewise, if jury misconduct led to an acquittal or dismissal of all charges, individuals cannot restrict those records. If individuals were prosecuted on criminal charges in another state or country arising from the same conduct that led to their arrest, they may not restrict the arrest records. If the prosecutor grants individuals immunity from prosecution, then they also are ineligible for the record restriction process.
Restricting Criminal Records in Cobb County
Restriction of criminal records happens automatically in some cases, but in other cases, individuals must petition the court to restrict their records. For example, in cases occurring after July 1, 2013, in which the prosecutor dismisses all the charges, or the defendants are found not guilty, the restriction of records may be automatic. Automatic restriction may also be available for conditional discharge cases and individuals who complete drug court or mental health court programs and go at least five years without another arrest.
However, in other cases, individuals must affirmatively seek restriction of their criminal records by filing petitions under O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37. For instance, individuals must apply to limit public disclosure of their records at the arresting agency in all arrests that occurred before July 1, 2013, and pay a fee. An expungement attorney in Cobb County may be able to assist persons who wish to apply for restrictions to their records.
Consult a Cobb County Expungement Attorney for Advice
Record restriction can be an attractive option for you in selected circumstances. Although you generally cannot restrict public access to your criminal convictions, you might be able to limit disclosure of records related to arrests for which you were not prosecuted or misdemeanor convictions that occurred at a young age. A Cobb County expungement lawyer can be instrumental in helping you successfully restrict your records.