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   Expungement

For whatever reason many folks are under the impression that a criminal conviction can be or will be expunged or sealed after some finite period of time.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Whether the accused has entered a guilty plea (i.e. I did it and I am ready to take responsibility for doing it), a nolo contendere plea aka nolo plea (i.e. I am not contesting the evidence the state will offer to the judge), an Alford plea (i.e. I am not guilty, but having looked at the evidence against me, I think it is in my best interest to enter a guilty plea), or a first offender plea (i.e. this is the first trouble I have ever been in), the arrest and disposition of the case will be available for all to see, forever. 

    Expungement only becomes a possibility when someone is trying to get an “arrest” off of his/her record, not a “conviction”.  In Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37 controls expungements. An arrest expungement is fairly simple if an individual has been arrested, and: (1) is released by the arresting agency prior to the case being  referred to the prosecuting attorney (i.e. District Attorney or Solicitor General); or (2) the prosecuting attorney dismisses the charges without seeking an indictment or filing an accusation. O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(d)(1).  In effect the statute views the arrest as a mistake, and as such it should not remain on the person’s criminal history.

    O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(d)(1) provides the best evidence of why a person should retain an experienced criminal attorney immediately.  If the attorney is able to convince the prosecutor that the charges were brought incorrectly, then the accused may get both a dismissal, and an expungement.

    Similarly, O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(d)(7) addresses expungements when the charges are dismissed after an indictment is returned by the grand jury or an accusation is filed.  There are a number of conditions which prohibit the expungement of a record after indictment or accusation, but it is still very much possible.  If an accused does not fit into one of the enumerated categories in O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(d)(7), he may be able to procure an expungement of his arrest.  If the prosecutor objects to the expungement of the arrest, the accused may file a civil suit against the arresting agency, which will require an experienced attorney.

    Main point to remember: A conviction will not be expunged, but an arrest can be expunged.  If you are the type of person that will not want an arrest to appear on his record, then you need to retain an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible.

Lawrence Lewis is an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing as Drug Attorney, License Suspension Lawyers, Sex Offense Attorney, Traffic Citation Lawyer, Misdemeanor Offenses Attorneys, Felony Offenses Lawyer, Bond Lawyer, Armed Robber Attorney, dui lawyer, Preliminary Hearing serving Lawrenceville, Gwinnett Country, Metro Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta, Buford, Fulton County, Canton, Decatur, Norcross, Woodstock, Stone Mountain, Duluth and Cumming .

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