I am an engineer and productive, "law-abiding citizen" living in Atlanta. Prior to 2000 I had no criminal record. In 2000 I developed a severe mental illness. Alone, I became progressively psychotic to the point I broke the law. In 2002 I plead guilty under the First Offender program and successfully completed probation in 2004. At that point the Judge issued an Order dismissing the case. Shortly after completing probation, in accordance with instructions from the DA’s office, I submitted an application for expungement to clear/seal my criminal record from the public (but as I understood it not law enforcement). A few months after filing for expungement, I got a job, conducted a criminal background search and everything was on there. What can I do?
Once someone has successfully completed first offender probation and the court has entered an order discharging that person of the offense, the person's criminal record is supposed to be changed so that employers no longer have access to the arrest and/or the first offender probation (though, as you note, law enforcement will always be able to see it). Assuming all of the facts above are correct, there has been a breakdown somewhere in inputting the appropriate information into "GCIC", the system maintained by the GBI to track criminal records. Unfortunately, such breakdowns are common in certain counties (especially Fulton County). You could hire an attorney to help identify where that breakdown has occurred and to fix it, or you could try and do it yourself.