For most people, the impact that a criminal record can have on someone’s life is hard to fathom until jobs are lost or positions not offered, education opportunities are denied, and aid is withheld. One of the greatest tools available to individuals with certain types of criminal records is the ability to expunge the record. This law has undergone recent changes and it is important to have an attorney who understands how to apply it to a person’s situation.
Many crimes will remain on a person’s record after a conviction, but as of July 1, 2013, there are certain cases that can lead to a restriction of the criminal record that is more effective than expungement, which still could be discovered by companies conducting certain types of background checks. A record restriction can lead to a fresh start without the burden of a criminal record.
In order to begin the process of restricting a criminal record, it is necessary to obtain a certificate of final disposition from the Clerk of the Court in the jurisdiction in which the case was filed. It is not possible to get a record restricted until the case has been disposed, with the exception of certain open arrest cases where the prosecutor has failed to take any action on the case. The change in the law opens up more cases for record restriction. Some of the matters that are eligible for record restriction include:
- Those cases where the defendant was found not guilty after a trial;
- Those cases where a guilty verdict was vacated;
- Those situations where the case was dismissed for a variety of reasons;
- Those convictions that were for a misdemeanor committed by a person who was less than 21 years of age when the crime was committed – these may be referred to as youthful offender crimes;
- Those cases where a person in convicted of a misdemeanor that is considered unrelated to a felony charge that was dismissed – this means that a reduced charge is not eligible for record restriction;
- Cases where the defendant has completed a diversion program – some of these pretrial diversion programs automatically trigger a record restriction after completion of the program whereas other require that the individual take formal action to accomplish this;
- Cases where the defendant has completed successfully a drug treatment program; and
- Cases where the prosecutor did not obtain a bill of indictment from a grand jury.
There are many cases that are not eligible for a record restriction, including cases where there was a conviction (with certain limited exceptions). In addition, situations where there is a dismissal of certain charges may not be eligible for record restriction. These cases often involve plea deals, an inability to prosecute due to immunity or suppression of evidence, or other matters where there was a pattern of criminal activity of which the charge that was dismissed is a part.
The determination of eligibility for record restriction is entirely fact-specific. Once a person who wishes to pursue this option has obtained the certified certificate of final disposition, the next step is to sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Often, a criminal defense attorney will base a defense strategy on the ability to restrict the criminal record after the case has been closed.
The Abt Law Firm, LLC. Aggressively Fights for its Clients
When a person is charged with a crime, there are many long-term consequences that a person may not foresee, but which can alter the path of a life. The Atlanta Criminal Defense Firm of the Abt Law Firm, LLC. knows how a criminal record can harm a person and will work with you to do everything possible to prevent this outcome. If you do not want a criminal record, call us immediately at (678) 582-2272 and we can help. We offer free consultations at our office, over the telephone, and are ready to come to you in jail.