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What is SB 288 and How Does it Affect My Record?

Senate Bill 88 makes it possible to apply for restriction and sealing of records for most misdemeanor offenses four years after you have completed your sentence.

If you plead guilty to a crime and avoid jail time, you have avoided the worst-case scenario in the short term; you do not have to worry about bullying by fellow inmates or abuse by guards, and you do not have to wait until your sentence is over to eat home-cooked meals or your favorite convenience store snacks. Once you have a criminal conviction on your record, though, the problems are just beginning, even if the conviction was only for a misdemeanor, and even if your sentence was only community service, a fine, or probation. The conviction shows up every time a prospective landlord or prospective employer does a background check, which means that a minor mistake, like smoking weed at a party when you were 22 years old during the Bush administration, could follow you around for decades. Until recently, Georgia law made it extremely difficult to expunge criminal convictions from your record, but the new law makes most misdemeanor convictions eligible for expungement four years after you finish your sentence. Contact an Atlanta expungement lawyer to find out more.

The New Eligibility Requirements for Expungement Under Senate Bill 88

Before the current law went into effect, it was almost impossible to expunge criminal convictions for your record. Back then, it was only possible to apply for restriction and sealing of records (a term that Georgia law uses interchangeably with “expungement”) if you were not convicted of the charges or if the conviction took place before your 21st birthday. Otherwise, the arrest record would show up on background checks for the rest of your life.

Senate Bill 88, which Gov. Kemp signed into law in August 2020, makes it much easier to expunge records of most misdemeanor convictions, as well as some felonies for which the defendant has received a pardon. If four years have passed since you completed your sentence for the misdemeanor conviction, and you have not had any subsequent convictions, nor are charges currently pending against you, you can apply to have the records expunged; the same court that sentenced you is the one that decides whether to grant your request for expungement. Nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, such as drug possession, vandalism, and theft, are eligible for expungement. Family violence crimes are not eligible, and neither are sex crimes against children or sex crimes committed by a person in a position of authority. Non-violent and non-sexual felony convictions are also eligible for expungement if the defendant has received a pardon as long as the defendant completed their sentence at least five years ago and has not gotten any new criminal cases.

Contact Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers About Restriction and Sealing of Records

An Atlanta criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise your right not to suffer endless punishment for a long-ago misdemeanor offense. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about your case.