Expungement Costs in Georgia

Expungement Costs in Georgia

Getting your criminal record expunged in Georgia can be a complicated process, but it may be worth it to clear your record of certain arrests or convictions. Here’s what you need to know about expungement costs and the overall process in Georgia.

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the process of sealing criminal records from your permanent record. It’s a way to give people who have been arrested or convicted of crimes a fresh start.

In Georgia, you can petition the court to have up to two misdemeanor convictions expunged from your record. This law went into effect in January 2021. Felonies that have been pardoned can also potentially be expunged.

However, certain crimes are not eligible for expungement in Georgia, including sex crimes, crimes against minors, family violence crimes, and DUIs. The expungement process also requires that you currently have a clean record, with no other charges or convictions since the misdemeanor you want to expunge.

Why Get an Expungement?

Getting your record expunged can open up doors that may have been closed to you because of your criminal history. Expungement means your sealed arrests or convictions will no longer show up on most background checks – which is great news when you’re applying for jobs, housing, loans, and other opportunities that require background checks.

Expungement gives people a chance at a fresh start in life after making past mistakes. It can be incredibly freeing to have certain arrests or convictions officially removed from your permanent record.

Expungement Costs

There are a few different costs associated with trying to get your record expunged in Georgia:

  • Criminal Record Report Fee – To start the expungement process, you’ll need to get a copy of your criminal record, which you can request from any local police department for around $25. This report will list out your full criminal history.
  • Expungement Application Fee – After reviewing your criminal record, you’ll need to fill out an expungement application to submit to the court. The county prosecutor’s office charges up to $50 to process expungement applications.
  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation Fee – If your expungement is approved by the prosecutor’s office, you’ll also have to pay a $25 processing fee to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to complete the expungement. The GBI handles record sealing for the state.

So in total, you can expect to pay around $100 in fees as part of the expungement process in Georgia. The exact fees may vary slightly by county.

If your application gets denied, you unfortunately don’t get the fees refunded. And if you want to expunge multiple arrests/convictions, you may have to pay additional application fees.

How to Get Your Georgia Criminal Record

The first step in the expungement process is getting a copy of your Georgia criminal record, known as your GCIC report. Here’s how:

  • Go to your local police station or sheriff’s office and request a copy of your GCIC criminal record. Most departments charge around $25 for this report.
  • You’ll need to show a valid ID. The department will then print out your full criminal history in Georgia, including any arrests, charges filed, and convictions.
  • Review the report closely – this will help you determine if you’re eligible to have any parts of your record expunged.
  • Focus on any misdemeanor convictions and arrests that did not lead to convictions. These may potentially be eligible for expungement.

Completing the Expungement Application

Once you have your GCIC report, you can move forward with submitting an expungement application:

  • Contact the prosecutor’s office in the county where you were arrested/charged to get an expungement application. This will be the solicitor general’s office for misdemeanors.
  • Fill out the application very carefully – any mistakes could get your application denied. You may need to submit separate applications if you have multiple arrest dates.
  • The arresting agency will complete their section of the application, then send it to the prosecutor’s office.
  • The prosecutor will review your application and decide whether to approve or deny it. Unfortunately, you may not get an explanation if your application is denied.
  • If approved, the prosecutor submits your application to the GBI to complete the expungement. This can take 2-3 weeks.
  • Once done, the GBI will mail you a letter confirming that your record has been expunged.

Going to Court for Expungement

If your expungement application gets denied by the prosecutor, you have one more option – filing an appeal with the county’s superior court within 30 days of the denial.

You’ll have to request a hearing and argue your case in front of a judge for why your record should be expunged. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer represent you can significantly help your chances of success.

But going to court will also increase your total expungement costs due to attorney’s fees. It’s a good idea to save up some money in case you need to take this extra step.

Checking the Status of Your Application

Waiting to hear back about your expungement application can be stressful. To check the status of your application after it’s been submitted, you can call the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at (404) 244-2600.

The prosecutor’s office has 90 days to make a decision on your application. If approved, the GBI will mail you a completion letter within 2-3 weeks of receiving it.

So if you don’t hear anything after about 4 months, follow up with the GBI to see if there’s an issue or delay. Be patient but persistent when checking your application status.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Georgia?

As mentioned earlier, Georgia law allows up to two misdemeanor convictions to be expunged, with a few exceptions:

  • Sex crimes
  • Crimes against minors
  • Family violence
  • DUIs

You also cannot have any other convictions on your record since the misdemeanor you’re seeking to expunge.

In addition, pardoned felonies in Georgia may be eligible for expungement. However, violent felonies and sex offenses still cannot be expunged with a pardon.

If you have multiple arrests that did not lead to convictions, you may be able to expunge all of those arrests from your record as well.

Alternatives to Expungement

If your crimes are not eligible for expungement, there are some other options in Georgia:

  • Record Restriction – Less serious felonies can have access restricted after 4 years with no convictions. Violent/sex felonies can be restricted after 7 years.
  • First Offender Pleas – Plead guilty and complete probation to avoid a conviction on your record. The charges are dismissed if probation is successful.
  • Pardons – You can petition the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for a pardon on a felony, which may make it eligible for expungement.

Is Expungement Permanent in Georgia?

Yes, if you successfully complete the expungement process in Georgia, it is considered permanent. The sealed criminal records are removed from your history and no longer show up on most background checks.

However, law enforcement agencies can still access your full criminal record for investigative purposes, even after expungement. And federal agencies like the FBI may still maintain their own records related to your arrests/convictions.

But for most purposes, an expunged record in Georgia is gone for good, allowing you that fresh start. Just make sure to confirm what exactly was expunged from your record and what wasn’t.

When to Consult an Attorney

Navigating the expungement process on your own can be extremely difficult and frustrating. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help simplify the process and maximize your chances of success.

Here are some instances when it’s a good idea to seek legal guidance:

  • If your application gets denied initially by the prosecutor’s office
  • If you have to appeal your case in court
  • If you have multiple arrests/convictions you’re trying to expunge
  • If you have questions on eligibility or the application process
  • If you need help obtaining your criminal record report

Having an attorney represent you will add to the overall expungement costs. But it’s often worth the expense to have that legal expertise on your side.

Conclusion

Getting your criminal record expunged in Georgia can be well worth the effort and expenses involved. For many people, it represents their best chance at putting past mistakes behind them for good and moving forward with their lives.

Just make sure you fully understand the expungement requirements and limitations in Georgia. Consult with an attorney if you need guidance on the process. With persistence and patience, you may be able to finally clear your record.