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New “second chance” law makes it easier to expunge criminal records

Governor Brian Kemp recently signed SB 288 into law. Authored by Sen. Tonya Anderson and guided through State House by Rep. Houston Gaines, the legislation makes it easier for rehabilitated Georgians to restrict and seal their criminal history by limiting access to some convictions. Most states refer to this as expungement – there are now 42 states with similar new expungement laws on the books.

This rare bipartisan bill had unanimous support from both state houses as well as a wide array of advocacy groups. Set become law January 1, 2021, it will enable citizens to petition for certain misdemeanors convictions four years after completing the sentence if there were no new pending charges. Those convicted of sex offenses, family violence, crimes against children DUI are not eligible. The bill also enables those pardoned by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to seal and restrict convictions if they are not sex offenses or violent felonies.

The benefits to the former convicts include:

  • Better access to employment opportunities
  • Better access to educational opportunities
  • Better access to housing opportunities

Employers still protected

At the same time, the law also provides liability protection to employers who are willing to hire former convicts. Employers who work with children, the elderly, the mentally ill and other vulnerable groups will still be able to access the records.

Make your criminal history a thing of the past

Those interested in sealing their criminal record may want to speak with an attorney. These legal professionals can help clients with the paperwork to ensure that it is done correctly, thus giving it the best chance for success.