How to Restrict (Expunge) Records of a Case that was Dismissed or Otherwise Closed without Conviction and Seal the Court Records

When a charge is dismissed or otherwise closed without conviction, you may qualify for restriction (expungement). See O.C.G.A. 35-3-37(h).

ELIGIBILITY:

  1. Case was dismissed, not prosecuted, not presented to the grand jury (NPGJ), or twice no-billed by the grand jury; or
  2. You were acquitted (found not guilty) of all charges.

NOTE: You do not qualify for restriction if your charge was indicted but later closed without conviction because:

  • You pled guilty to another charge in the case;
  • You were involved in a pattern of criminal activity prosecuted in another jurisdiction;
  • The prosecution could not use important evidence against you (evidence was suppressed);
  • You were acquitted, but there was evidence of jury tampering or judicial misconduct.
  • You had some form of immunity

PROCESS FOR GCIC/ARRESTING AGENCY RECORDS:

Eligible arrests occurring after July 1, 2013 will be restricted (expunged) from your criminal history by the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) as soon as the disposition is entered into the GCIC database, and the arresting agency within thirty (30) days of the entry.

Eligible arrests occurring before July 1, 2013 must be restricted by completing a multi-step application process.The process can take up to 150 days and is as follows:

  1. Contact the arresting law enforcement agency for the requirements to restrict a record.
  2. Submit the application and any other required documentation. There is usually a processing fee of $25.00, though the agency can charge up to $50.00. A copy of the Application is included with these instructions. Applications can also be found at:                 https://gbi.georgia.gov/sites/gbi.georgia.gov/files/related_files/site_page/Request%20to%20Restrict%20Arrest%20Record%20Instructions%20and%20Request%20Form.pdf
  3. Within thirty days (30) of receiving the application, the arresting agency must forward the application to the prosecuting attorney’s office to verify that charges qualify for restriction.
  4. Within ninety (90) days of receipt from the arresting agency, the prosecuting attorney must decide whether the record will be restricted (expunged) – based on the criteria in the law – and return the application to the arresting agency. If approved, the arresting agency must restrict the information within thirty (30) days and return the application to you at the address you provided on the application.
  5. If the application is approved, you must send it to GCIC with a $25.00 money order to restrict the charge from your official Georgia criminal history record. If the application is denied, you have thirty (30) days to appeal by civil action in superior court.

PROCESS FOR COURT RECORDS

To get the file of your restricted charges sealed you must file an action and show the court that the harm suffered by the clerk’s record remaining public (i.e., denial of jobs, licensing, housing, etc.) outweighs the interest in the record being publicly available. In other words, you need the file sealed more than the public needs access to the file. See O.C.G.A. 35-3-37(m).

The process to seal the records of the court is as follows:

  1. Get a certified copy of the final disposition in your case from the clerk of court where your case was handled.
  2. Prepare the motion. A sample motion is included in these instructions.
  3. Sign and date the motion.
  4. Indicate the case number assigned to the criminal case.
  5. Attach the final disposition and any other required documentation. (NOTE: Do not attach a copy of your criminal history.)
  6. Attach any additional documentation showing that the presence of the record on your GCIC criminal history record is causing you harm (such as letters of employment or housing denials based on your background).
  7. Make three copies of your original documents.
  8. File the Motion and Draft Order in the criminal division of the clerk of court that handled the case. There should not be a filing fee. (NOTE: If the case was a felony, you should file the motion in the superior court. If the case was a misdemeanor, the motion should be filed in the state court.)
  9. Deliver or send a copy of your Motion and Draft Order to the office of the prosecuting attorney in the original case and the clerk of court.
  10. If you requested a hearing, the judge will hear testimony about whether record restriction is appropriate in your case.
  11. If the judge finds that restriction is appropriate, he or she will sign the order. It must be filed with the clerk of the court that handled the case.

PROCESS FOR JAIL RECORDS

You can restrict records maintained by jails and detention centers if the records have already been restricted. See “How to Restrict (Expunge) Records Kept by the Jail” on page 110.

Posted in: Restriction