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How Long Does it Take to Get a Criminal Record Expunged?

For arrests that happened after July 1, 2013, many criminal records automatically get restricted (formerly known as expungement) after anywhere from two to seven years, depending on the offense alleged at the time of the arrest.

A Georgia law that went into effect in 2013 acknowledges that it is unfair for criminal records to follow people around for life, interfering with their ability to find gainful employment, especially if the person already completed their sentence or was never even convicted. In some circumstances, the arrest record gets restricted, meaning that only law enforcement can access it, after a set period of time. How long you must wait for an automatic restriction of the record depends on the outcome of the arrest (such as a no contest plea, completion of drug court, or the charges being dropped), and whether the arrest was for a misdemeanor, a felony, or a violent crime. If you need help getting an arrest record restricted, contact a Georgia expungement lawyer.

Automatic Restriction of Arrest Records

An important change in Georgia expungement laws took place on July 1, 2013. First, the terminology changed from “expungement” to the more accurate “record restriction.” This means that the record of your arrest or conviction is no longer visible in public searches of criminal records databases. The only people who can find it are judges and other members of the criminal justice and law enforcement professions. The other important change is that records of certain categories of arrests that took place after the new law went into effect automatically get restricted after a set period of time. Here are some examples:

  • Misdemeanor arrests that were never referred for prosecution – two years
  • Nonviolent felony arrests that were never referred for prosecution – four years
  • Violent or sex-related felony arrests that were never referred for prosecution – seven years
  • Charges for which you were referred to drug court or mental health court – five years after you completed the drug court or mental health court program, provided that you do not have any other arrests during those five years

Requesting the Restriction of a Criminal Record

In most cases, it is not possible to get a felony conviction record restricted; the exception is nonviolent felony convictions for which the defendant was younger than 21 at the time of arrest. The only way to get a felony conviction removed from your record, even if it is from before 2013, is to request a pardon. For misdemeanor convictions, and for arrests that did not lead to arrests, you can apply to have the record restricted; the eligibility requirements vary from one offense to another. A Georgia expungement lawyer can help you navigate the process.

Request the Restriction of an Arrest Record Today

An arrest can complicate your life for years to come, even if you were never convicted. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about getting an arrest record or old conviction record restricted.