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Question about First Offender Act. Georgia

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  • Question about First Offender Act. Georgia

    I have a question about First Offender Act and hope someone can help me out.

    I was arrested in 2003 in Georgia for 6 counts of burglary and given 5 years probation under First Offender Act. It was my understanding that if I completed probation without any violations that the record would be sealed.
    I was released from probation early after 2 years (with no violations).

    When I now go and check my criminal records through the local county record database I have two entries... One is listed as 'First Offender' and has in fact been Sealed, however, it shows 'Transferred from docket #xxxxxx'. When I open THAT entry, all 6 counts are shown in plain English for the world to see.

    While I'm not trying to be dishonest or lie to anyone, I (technically) am not a convicted felon (am i?) and don't feel that is entirely fair... I completed my probation with no violations, should this information be listed or should it ALSO be sealed? There was no mention of a DUPLICATE record for the same 6 charges that would not be sealed, otherwise 'Sealing' is quite pointless.

    I've made a LOT of changes in lifestyle since 2003, and want to go back to school for a respectable career, however this could quite possibly affect future employment in most lines of work.... I assure you I am no criminal-at-large, just someone who made some bad decisions during a low point in my life (no excuse, i know)...

    Is there anything that can be done, or have I just made my bed to lay in?

    Thanks in advance for a response.

  • #2
    First, let's explain some of the terms.

    You are a convicted felon. All the sealing of the records does is prevents SOME from seeing that record. For instance, law enforcement can ALWAYS view the details of the file.

    You need to contact your attorney for the rest.
    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.


    • #3
      Thanks for the quick reply.

      Should I attempt to locate the court appointed lawyer who handled my case in 2003?

      This is really disappointing news, as I am certain both my lawyer AND probation officer told me I would NOT be considered a convicted felon if I completed probation with no violations, which I did.

      I have no problem with law enforcement seeing my record, I have no intentions of any further legal troubles. The problem I have is that ANYONE with Internet Explorer and dial-up internet can view my first offender offenses in a matter of seconds... I did. Sealing 'half' of the record has prevented NO ONE from seeing anything. This is not the place (or time) to discuss Guilt/Innocence, I believe the time would have been in the court room in 2003.
      I agreed to what I understood to be a 'plea bargain' in order to clear my record after completion of probation. Otherwise I possibly would have attempted a fair TRIAL instead...

      I'm starting to get the impression that I have hindered any possibility of a true career involving a degree of any sort... Quite depressing...
      I understand both points of view on the matter, but I'm certainly starting to see why some have had such a hard time being 'rehabilitated' by the legal system if this is how things are handled.
      Last edited by bugg; 04-04-2008, 02:43 PM.


      • #4
        I don't think you are legally considered a convicted felon if you successfully completed First Offender's Probation. I think it's a guilty plea that's been held in abeyance.

        As far as I know, the only record that gets sealed is your criminal records on GCIC. I don't know that other public records get sealed. It would be pointless anyway, since dataminers would already have the information recorded. Anyone can look it up if they pay a fee.

        Have you had yourself checked by your sheriff's office to confirm that the arrest is no longer showing on a Purpose Code E GCIC check?
        Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.


        • #5
          Would that be the standard background check provided by the sheriffs office?
          I plan to go get a copy of that within the next week or so...

          I didn't find any record of myself on the ONLINE GCIC database, only on the local county public records database. Not sure if it matters, but never saw a prison, just sat in the county jail waiting for court.

          Copies of my warrants and disposition are all scanned and available for public viewing. (I suppose they're public records now)

          I was really hoping to go to college, but now I'm uncertain what I can actually go for, since a lot of my options would be dead ends. On top of that, I'm really questioning my eligibility for any federal/state grants...

          This is all somewhat 'new' to me, I've been off probation for about 3 years now and just 'assumed' all of this was behind me. I suppose I was naive.
          What a mess I have made for/of myself. =/


          • #6
            The GCIC check is the standard thing at the sheriff's office. That's the search that most people use to look for convictions.

            What is the online GCIC database? I'm not aware of any publicly available way to access GCIC.

            I wouldn't get to wrapped around the axle about this stuff.
            42-8-63. Effect of discharge under article on eligibility for employment or appointment to office

            Except as otherwise provided in this article, a discharge under this article is not a conviction of a crime under the laws of this state and may not be used to disqualify a person in any application for employment or appointment to office in either the public or private sector.
            42-8-63.1. Discharges disqualifying individuals from employment

            (a) A discharge under this article may be used to disqualify a person for employment if:

            (1) The offender was discharged under this article on or after July 1, 2004; and either

            (2) The employment is with a public school, private school, child welfare agency, or a person or entity that provides day care for minor children or after school care for minor children and the defendant was discharged under this article after prosecution for the offense of child molestation, sexual battery, enticing a child for indecent purposes, sexual exploitation of a child, pimping, pandering, or incest;

            (3) The employment is with a nursing home, personal care home, or a person or entity that offers day care for elderly persons and the defendant was discharged under this article after prosecution for the offense of sexual battery, incest, pimping, pandering, or a violation of Code Section 30-5-8; or

            (4) The request for information is an inquiry about a person who has applied for employment with a facility as defined in Code Section 37-3-1 or 37-4-2 that provides services to persons who are mentally ill as defined in Code Section 37-3-1 or mentally retarded as defined in Code Section 37-4-2, and the person who is the subject of the inquiry to the center was prosecuted for the offense of sexual battery, incest, pimping, or pandering.

            (b) Any discharge under this article may be used to disqualify a person from acquiring or maintaining a peace officer certification as provided for in Chapter 8 of Article 35 and also may disqualify a person from employment in a certified position with a law enforcement unit where the discharge under this article pertained to a felony offense or a crime involving moral turpitude.

            If you want to read more about it, click here:, and then click on Title 42, then Chapter 8, and read the stuff in Part 3.
            Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.


            • #7
              My mistake, it was the GDOC online database I searched, not GCIC.
              I'm assuming it lists past/present Georgia prison inmates, which is probably why I'm not listed.

              I'll go this week and get a GCIC background check.

              Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.


              • #8
                That's just everyone who's been admitted into the prison system. People sentenced to short felony sentences may never even get there. The DoC doesn't bring in new inmates until they're ready. That's why jails are overcrowded. We have inmates who parole out without ever getting to see a prison.
                Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.


                • #9
                  There is no way the sealing of records are going to remove any news stories in the local newspapers about the case. Anyone can find this info out.


                  • #10
                    You've certainly got a point there... I'm not trying to erase the past however, just asking for the clean 'standard' background check I was 'promised'. I understand if the dataminers can find records, and I understand if law enforcement can see the info...

                    What I don't like is the fact that there are 6 scanned images of my warrants with my full social security number on them posted as public records. Everything one would need to obtain a credit card in my name is listed... Name, address, DOB, SSN... everything. Is there nothing that can be done about that?


                    • #11
                      I'm stunned that they let that go. Is this system run by the court clerk's office or the sheriff's office?
                      Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.


                      • #12
                        It's the Clerk of Court Records database... Run by the city/county I assume?


                        • #13
                          I'd call them and ask if there's a way that you SSN or DOB could be removed from the online files. If they say it can't be done, ask to talk to the actual clerk. The Clerk of the Superior Court is an elected official.

                          It may be that there's an Open Record Law that requires it to be published in full. I doubt it, but we have a very very liberal Open Records law. If they say they're required to post the whole thing by law, then I'd get in contact with your state representative and talk to them about passing a law next year to make it illegal for public officials to release SSNs or DOBs in public records. With the current issues with Identity Theft, you might get some traction on that.
                          Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.


                          • #14
                            GA FIrst Offender Act

                            Bugg, Cyjeff was totally wrong in his reply. I assume from his short response that he is a hater or someone that believes once you are in court and plea you are a felon. This is untrue and requires a close to legal response.

                            Here are the facts:

                            Once you take what is called in GA the "North Carolina V Alford" (First Offenders Act) you are saying to the court that there is a possibility no matter how small that you will be convicted of the crime you are charged with so you want to take this plea but not admit any guilt to the charges. They offer you North Carolina V Alford and you are given a "set aside" charge. This effectively means if you complete the terms of your probation which is standard then the charges will never be put on your record. The charges never went or should have never been placed on your record because your case was not adjudicated(tried and sentenced by a judge or jury). However if you fail to complete the terms of your probation or get a new charge which is in effect not completing probation your First Offenders now become a full fledged conviction.

                            I am sure this was explained to you back when you first asked for and received First Offender Status. So CYJEFF is way off the mark, YOU ARE NOT A CONVICTED FELON, that judgment has not been made and cannot be made due to your successful completion of probation. GA is supposed to seal those records and only GBI or FBI can view them as reference. In any future legal action your slate is clean and this cannot be used against you legally in court, EVER!!!!!

                            I speak from experience. Because its GA and they are redneck hillbillies do not expect them to follow the laws or rules they set for themselves you have to sue or threaten to sue them to seal all records that reference this. If an employer does a background check and question you about it, its illegal and they can be sued. The point of sealing the record is so no lay person or company can see it, the only ones with legal right and access is a government agency.

                            My advice, have an attorney research and get the GBI to seal your records so that any county or city agency when requesting your background information can only see arrests. The GBI has all your records and controls whom they give them to. Any employer in GA will be requesting that information from the GBI, any out of state employer would be requesting that information from the GBI because you live in GA and had the charges in GA.

                            Good Luck


                            • #15
                              You do realize that this thread is two and one half years old and that the laws have changed significantly since that time, right?

                              My point was that he did take a plea and subject himself to the direction of the court. To your point, those sealed records CAN be seen by the appropriate entities... but only by them.

                              You cannot sue an employer for finding something in your criminal background that should have been sealed. Why would the employer be at fault?

                              Oh, and go buy a calendar.
                              Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

                              I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

                              Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.