06 Jan What does it mean to be a “First Offender” in Georgia?
What does it mean to be a “First Offender” in Georgia?
Being fortunate enough to be sentenced under the “First Offender” Act is a substantial benefit to those charged with a crime. The list of eligible First Offender crimes is quite extensive. Only crimes labeled serious violent felonies are not eligible.
The primary benefit of the law is to keep you from being “convicted” and labeled as a felon while you are serving your sentence. At the conclusion of your sentence, you will be completely exonerated of any wrongdoing and have all your civil rights restored (such as the ability to legally possess a firearm).
While Georgia is a very strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, you cannot possess a firearm until your First Offender probation is successfully completed.
In addition to having all your civil rights restored, successfully completing the First Offender sentence allows you to have your record expunged. Having your record expunged is often times automatically done by the State; however, it is always wise to confer with an attorney to make sure the proper filings are done to ensure compliance with the expungement laws.
Expungement means that private parties conducting background checks will not see this part of your life on any official governmental database. You also have a right to have any private websites remove you from their listings (e.g. mugshots.com, instantcheckmate.com, publicrecordsreview.com just to name a few).
Lastly, employers cannot use your First Offender status as a means to deny you employment in either the public or private sector (except in very limited instances such as working with minors).
For more information on the First Offender Statute, please Google the Official Code of Georgia §42-8-60.