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