How To Obtain a Pardon and Have Your Record Sealed in Georgia
Having a criminal record expunged can improve a person’s life by increasing job opportunities, housing, even education. However, getting your record expunged can prove challenging. To help, we will explain how to get a felony expunged in Georgia.
In Georgia, you must receive a pardon before you can have your record expunged. However, you must prove eligibility for a pardon before petitioning for one. To do so, you must wait for a minimum of five years after completing your parole, incarceration, or probation. Sex offenders, however, must wait for ten.
You also cannot have pending cases or open charges. Finally, you cannot accrue additional convictions during this waiting period. You can then apply for a pardon after waiting the required period.
Should you prove eligible and have your application processed, a caseworker from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles will interview you. You must understand that eligibility does not guarantee a pardon. The board will consider your interview with the caseworker when deciding whether to grant your pardon.
You must answer any questions carefully and honestly. The board will not base your pardon on innocence or guilt, so you must prove in the interview how you have taken responsibility for your actions.
Once pardoned, you can apply to have your record restricted and sealed. Once sealed, employers and landlords will not gain access to them. However, judges and law enforcement officials can still see them.
Some felonies remain ineligible for restriction or sealing. These include statutory rape, armed robbery, aggravated child molestation, kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault with intent to rape, false imprisonment (victim under 14 and not your child), sodomy, murder/felony murder, and child molestation. That said, there are some exceptions. You can have your record vacated, then restricted and sealed if the conviction directly results from labor, human, or sex trafficking. However, should your conviction not directly result from trafficking but have still occurred while trafficked, you can petition to have the record restricted and sealed.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles makes the final decision. Should the board not pardon you, it does not have to provide a reason. If rejected, you can wait two years and apply again.
People found or pleading guilty can request the judge to sentence them under the First Offender Act. If convicted under this act, they can expect the conviction to automatically seal by the court after completing their sentence. However, should an individual not know about the act when sentenced, they could request it apply retroactively. In this case, the court will seal the charges.
Some convictions are not eligible for first-offender status. These include serious violent or sexual offenses, neglect of disabled or older adults, child pornography or DUI, and charges relating to trafficking.
The court will restore your civil and political rights once the board grants your pardon. As such, you can also restore your firearm rights. However, should you desire this right restored, you must apply for it because it does not return automatically.
After receiving a pardon, you should consider running a self-background check. This check will inform you whether the restricted and sealed criminal records still appear in your background. You can request corrections to the information if you find these convictions in your background check.
Background checks don’t have to be complicated. Try running a Self Background Check today and give yourself a head start.