Changes to the Restriction of Criminal Records for Ordinance Violations and Misdemeanor Offenses

   The legislature in 2020 passed Senate Bill 288 which was a change in the law concerning restriction of criminal records and when certain offenses can be restricted from a person’s criminal history. The change will go into effect on January 1, 2021. Restriction of criminal records was previously referred to under Georgia law as expungement and is a way to keep arrests from appearing on a criminal history report when run by certain types of individuals. An example of when the arrest would not appear, is if an individual’s criminal history is run by most types of employers for employment purposes. 

This law changes when certain arrests and convictions can be restricted from a person’s criminal record. One of the changes is that if a person is arrested for a criminal offense, but the charge is ultimately reduced to a violation of a local ordinance that charge will be restricted. This change means that if the original charge is reduced to a local ordinance violation, such as disorderly conduct, the original charge would then be restricted from a person’s criminal history records.  Additionally if a person is arrested for a misdemeanor offense and following the completion of their sentence that person is not charged with another offense for four years, they can then petition the court for a restriction of those misdemeanor charges from their record. In the case of a misdemeanor conviction, the individual would have to affirmatively petition the court for the restriction and have the court order such record restriction. This change in the law as to misdemeanor convictions only applies to certain misdemeanors, with misdemeanors such as DUI and domestic violence excluded under most circumstances. This record restriction process can actually be done for two different misdemeanor convictions in an individual’s lifetime, as long as the misdemeanors are eligible offenses and the four year time period is met. 

Record restriction is a great opportunity for an individual that meets the requirements, and the broadening of when arrests can be restricted will have a positive impact on thousands of Georgians that qualify. If you have questions about pending criminal charges, felony or misdemeanor, and if they will ultimately be able to be restricted give us a call today.