Should you complete your probationary period under the First Offender Act in Georgia, a few things you will be entitled to receive:
1. I written order discharging you from the offense
2. An order directing The Georgia GCIC to screen your criminal record from all except law enforcement.
3. The satisfaction of knowing you have never been convicted of the crime charged.
NOTE: NONE OF THE ABOVE HAPPENS AUTOMATICALLY, NOR WILL ANYONE DO IT FOR YOU FOR FREE. SUCH SERVICE IS SE;DOM INCLUDED IN WHATEVER FEE AGREEMENT YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD WITH YOUR ORIGINAL LAWYER AND DO NOT PRESUME HE OR SHE WILL EVEN KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING THE FOREGOING ON YOUR BEHALF.
I am an attorney, practicing throughout the state of Georgia, but primarily in the areas around Augusta, Statesboro and Savannah, Georgia. You may review more information about my practice by going to: http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/30809-ga-elmer-young-540135/reviews.html. The information I am providing you should only be considered for your general knowledge and educational purposes. Consider it as a good first step in your knowledge acquisition, but not as legal advice. Indeed, any information I provide is based on the extremely limited facts you have provided and new facts could substantially alter any answer or reply. My opinion should be understood to apply only to the laws of the State of Georgia. You should always consult with a local attorney about your situation if you live outside of the State of Georgia.
I have never heard of a defendant entering a plea to a felony without being arrested first. If there is no arrest including fingerprints, photograph, and being booked in, there would be no record of the charge with GCIC and FCIC (the criminal background check sources.) However, assuming there was a plea to felony charges under 1st offender, there would be no "disposition" on your case until you either complete probation or have a probation violation wherein the sentencing judge could decide to revoke your 1st offender status and resentence you. If you successfully complete probation without any problems, the probation officer will send a discharge to the district attorney's office explaining you completed probation. At that time, your criminal history will reflect a "Case Dismissed, 1st Offender Completed." This cannot be expunged. Also remember that while on probation you cannot carry firearms and cannot vote. When you complete probation, your civil liberties are restored.
One thing that hasn't been clarified regarding employers vs. law enforcement. Completing First Offender does result in you NOT Being a convicted Felon and while you are on First Offender probation you are not a convicted felon. If you fill out an employment application and it asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony you can honestly answer NO.
The disposition may not even appear on a criminal background check from employers. Different agencies doing background checks have different levels of visibility in GCIC. So someone doing a standard background check for employment does not see the same stuff that say the District Attorney or Police Department would.
However, even without considering all the GCIC stuff, it is still possible for thorough private companies to find out criminal information. Public records are still available that may document your arrest or charges like Jail records (maybe not in your case), court records, news articles, sleezy websites who post about arrests online and then charge you to remove it, etc. So First Offender does not protect you from all that other information that may still be obtainable by 3rd parties. It just means you aren't a convicted felon and people won't see it on your GCIC record.
Legal disclaimer: Brian Tevis is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. All information given is based only on Georgia law and is not directly applicable to any other jurisdictions, states, or districts. This response, or any response, is not legal advice. This response, or any response, does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information. Any state-specific concerns should be directed to an attorney who is licensed to practice law in that respective state.