As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, it is important for me to explain what people's options are after being accused or arrested for a criminal offense in Georgia. There are plenty of Georgia Criminal Defenses that are available to those who have been accused of criminal activity. Remember that just because someone has been accused of a crime doesn't mean that they are automatically guilty of that crime. Today, I will focus on the Georgia First Offender Act.
The Georgia First Offender Act is very similar to Georgia Pretrial Diversion or conditional discharge because allows defendants to have their charge removed from their criminal program. The idea is that it allows some first-time offenders to avoid a conviction by completing certain requirements. It is an alternative to a conviction on your record.
Georgia Law on the Georgia First Offender Act
According to Georgia Law, the Georgia First Offender Act is defined as:
Where a defendant has not been previously convicted of a felony, the court may, upon a verdict or plea of guilty or nolo contendere, and before adjudication of guilt, without entering a judgment of guilty and with the consent of the defendant, defer future proceedings and place the defendant on probation or sentence the defendant to a term of confinement. O.C.G.A. §42-8-60.
In order to be considered for the Georgia First Offender Act, you have to meet certain requirements.
- You must not have been convicted of a felony in not just Georgia, but any state.
- You cannot have already been sentenced as a first offender.
- The crime in which you are charged must not be a serious violent felony, serious sexual offense, DUI, or related to child pornography. (This includes but is not limited to: Georgia DUI, Georgia Rape, Georgia Murder, etc.)
A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneywill let you know if you are eligible for the program and can help explore all of your options. Your Attorney is responsible for informing you as to your eligibility for sentencing as a first offender. After that, you must inform the Court of your willingness to enter into the program, and the prosecutor, meaning the State of Georgia, will determine if you are eligible. The judge has the final discretion to allow first offender treatment for a defendant.
The defendant must successfully complete all terms of the program and cannot commit a new crime during the process. If this is done, then the crime will be sealed from your official criminal history.
After you complete the program, your probation officer will ask the Judge assigned to your case to issue an Order of Discharge. The Order of Discharge will be filed with the Clerk's office, and then the Clerk will enter the Order on your official Georgia Criminal History Record. Your case will then be sealed from your GCIC criminal history record for most employers. However, remember that lawyers, law enforcement, judges, and police will always be able to see the charge.
But if you are arrested for another crime while still on first offender probation, your status from first offender will be changed to a conviction.
Again, if you are charged with a crime in Georgia, contact us today.