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Can a shoplifting conviction at age 18 (17 when crime committed) be expunged from record ? My 29 yr old daughter can't get job.

Gainesville, GA |

When my daughter was 17, her boyfriend fell from a 2-story bldg on his head and was on life support until he died & his organs were harvested. She was severely traumatized and had moved out of our house and in with some bad associations soon after this happened. She was not herself. She was arrested in Wal-mart for trying to steal a $9 bottle of make-up. She moved home soon after. She had never stolen anything before and has not since. Thinking that she would be offered the first offender's act and her record cleared (and not being able to afford an attorney), we just went to court and she stood before the judge and pled guilty. She was given a fairly stiff fine, one year's probation and not offered first offenders. She is now a 29-yr old single mother and can't get a job. We are in GA.

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Attorney answers 2


I do not know GA expungement law so you'll have to go to a GA lawyer for that. In most states an expungement does not seal the record so people will still know of her arrest. An exungement usually adds a notation that the conviction was dismissed. This is true in CA; check to see if it is true in GA. If it is getting one may show rehabilitation but will not guarantee she is more employable.


What a terrible result for a young woman to have to deal with for so long. You may want to consult a lawyer who can analyze the case in detail to see if there is anything that can be done at this point. It is hard to believe that 12 years later she is still unable to get a job due to this conviction.

I will discuss expungements below, but keep in mind there are other legal strategies that may work as well or even better. For example, if your daughter pled guilty without the assistance of counsel, and the court failed to inform her regarding certain consitutional rights, then the conviction could be vacated under a Habeas Corpus petition.

Another possibility for addressing this problem is what I like to call the biggest gun in my arsenal: relationships. Many times attorneys can use the relationships they have cultivated over decades of work in a single community to gain an advantage for their client that seems impossible. For example, in my small town, the municipal court prosecutor is also a defense attorney who keeps an open mind to resolving these unusual and cumbersome problems. A talented lawyer in your community may get you a result that seems unattainable.

but to answer your question specifically, in Georgia, expungements are possible but fall within a very narrow set of exceptions that are codified in the Georgia Code at §35-3-37(d):

"(1) An individual who was:
(A) Arrested for an offense under the laws of this state but subsequent to such arrest is released by the arresting agency without such offense being referred to the prosecuting attorney for prosecution; or
(B) After such offense referred to the proper prosecuting attorney, and the prosecuting attorney dismisses the charges without seeking an indictment or filing an accusation may request the original agency in writing to expunge the records of such arrest, including any fingerprints or photographs of the individual taken in conjunction with such arrest, from the agency files. Such request shall be in such form as the center shall prescribe. Reasonable fees shall be charged by the original agency and the center for the actual costs of the purging of such records, provided that such fees shall not exceed $50.00.

(2) Upon receipt of such written request, the agency shall provide a copy of the request to the proper prosecuting attorney. Upon receipt of a copy of the request to expunge a criminal record, the prosecuting attorney shall promptly review the request to determine if it meets the criteria for expungement set forth in paragraph (3) of this subsection. If the request meets those criteria, the prosecuting attorney shall review the records of the arrest to determine if any of the material contained therein must be preserved in order to protect the constitutional rights of an accused under Brady v. Maryland.

(3) An individual has the right to have his or her record of such arrest expunged, including any fingerprints or photographs of the individual taken in conjunction with such arrest, if the prosecuting attorney determines that the following criteria have been satisfied:
(A) The charge was dismissed under the conditions set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection;
(B) No other criminal charges are pending against the individual; and
(C) The individual has not been previously convicted of the same or similar offense under the laws of this state, the United States, or any other state within the last five years, excluding any period of incarceration."

As you can see, a person who was actually prosecuted and pled guilty to a probated sentence is not eligible for an expungement.

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