Written by attorney George Chadwell Creal Jr.

How does a First Offender gulity plea work in Georgia

What is Georgia’sFirst Offender Act (FOA)?

Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60, the Georgia First Offender Act

for probation provides as follows, “upon a verdict or plea of

guilty or nolo contendere, but before an adjudication of guilt, the

court may, in the case of a defendant who has not been previously

convicted of a felony, without entering a judgment of guilt and with

the consent of the defendant, defer further proceeding and place the

defendant on probation as a first offender."

If the terms of the first offender probation sentence are completed

successfully, and the probationer is discharged, those charges would be

sealed on the Georgia Criminal Information Center (hereinafter "GCIC")

database when the GCIC is notified of the discharge or sucessful

completion of probation; however, such information may be available through

third party sources, including online court dockets, courthouse records,

criminal justice agency websites, or through “third party" vendors.

GCIC must receive official notification that the subject has successfully

completed the First Offender Act requirements. The record is not automatically

sealed based on the completion of the probation sentence, but rather notice

must be sent by the Clerk of Court.

Georgia law, codified at O.C.G.A. § 42-8-65(b), requires GCIC to change the first

offender sentence to a conviction if, prior to successful discharge,

the subject is arrested and convicted of another offense while still

on first offender probation or the offender has received First

Offender Act treatment previously. Courts also have the options of revoking

a first offender probation status, indicating a failure to complete a first offender

sentence or changing a First Offender Probabtion which is not an adjudication of guilt

to an adjudication of guilt.

Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-63) provides a discharge under this

article is not a conviction of a crime under the laws of this state

and may not be used to disqualify a person in any application for

employment or appointment to office in either the public or private

sector. However, there is no legal enforcement provision for this code section.

Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-63.1) notes offenses for which a First Offender Act

discharge may be used to disqualify a person for employment; thus the

information will be disseminated to prospective employers

Additional resources provided by the author

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