New Law Allows Removal of Certain Convictions from Record

As of the start of 2021, people with criminal records in Georgia have a greater chance of having convictions expunged or sealed. Doing so can improve many aspects of life, so it is important to look into whether you might qualify. Discuss the matter with a Forsyth County criminal defense lawyer from Banks, Stubbs & McFarland today.

SB 288 Went into Effect

Senate Bill 288: Giving Rehabilitated Individuals a Second Chance passed the Georgia legislature and was signed by the governor last year, and the law took effect on January 1, 2021. This law allows misdemeanor offenders to file a petition to have their record sealed after a certain amount of time passes following the completion of their sentence. The court will then review the petition and decide whether to allow the record to be sealed.

The requirements are as follows:

  • The conviction must be for a misdemeanor offense that is not excluded from the law, which include DUI, sex crimes against children, domestic violence, sexual battery, pimping, and more
  • Four years or longer must have passed since the offender completed their court-ordered sentence
  • The offender had no convictions for additional offenses and has no pending criminal cases

When a court receives a petition to expunge a record of qualified convictions, the judge should weigh different factors, including the benefit to the public of having access to the conviction versus the harm the criminal record would cause the offender.

Employment Benefits of the New Expungement Law

When someone obtains an expungement, the conviction is essentially removed from their criminal record, meaning that the public cannot access it. When someone applies for a job and has an expunged record, they can honestly answer “no” when asked if they have been convicted of a crime.

This not only helps people get a second chance and find employment after criminal trouble, but it also helps employers who want to hire someone who might have a prior conviction. Georgia’s new law gives employers additional liability protections when they hire an applicant who has had their record sealed or expunged.

Many employers hesitate to hire people with even minor convictions because they fear they might face allegations of negligent hiring if the employee causes someone harm down the road. The new law protects employers - in most cases - from such liability for negligent hiring when taking on an employee with a restricted record.

Expungement or restriction of a criminal record can help with other aspects of life as well, including:

  • Getting approved for rental housing
  • Obtaining or keeping a professional license
  • Qualifying for certain public benefits

Speak with a Forsyth County Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The legal team at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland watch the criminal justice reform in Georgia closely to best assist our clients who face criminal charges or want to expunge a criminal record. Contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in your situation.