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Second Chance Law Now in Effect

The Second Chance Act of 2020 is designed to expand Georgia record restriction law to include certain misdemeanor and felony convictions. It also created incentives for employers to hire those whose convictions had been expunged.

If you have been convicted of a single misdemeanor, or a series of misdemeanors relating to a single incident, you may qualify for expungement if:

  • At least 4 years have passed since you completed your sentence
  • You have not been convicted of any crime (except non-serious traffic offenses) in the intervening period
  • You have no currently pending charges
  • You were not convicted of an excluded offense

Those excluded offenses include:

  • Sex crimes
  • Crimes against children
  • Family violence
  • DUI
  • Other specific offenses

If you have a felony conviction, you may also be eligible for a second chance under the law if you have received a pardon from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles and your conviction was not for a serious violent felony or sex offense.

The law also expands the options for young adults (under age 21) facing criminal charges for purchasing alcohol or presenting fake IDs to try to purchase alcohol. The newly expanded law allows first-time minors in possession to request record restrictions at the time of sentencing. The Court can defer the case while the defendant completes rehabilitation probation (up to three years) and then dismiss the proceedings.

If you want your record restricted you will need to file a petition with the court where the original conviction happened, and make your case for why the record should be sealed. This is an emerging area of the law, and you only get two chances to file a petition to expunge a misdemeanor conviction in your lifetime. If you decide to file a petition for record restriction, you should do so with an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side to advocate on your behalf and help you get a second chance at a clean record.

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