It’s nearly impossible to fully retire your debts without a decent paycheck. However, if you’ve ever been arrested or convicted for a serious crime, your chances of being interviewed for a lucrative position are very slim. Furthermore, you may be unable to find reasonable rent in a safe neighborhood if you have an arrest or conviction record since many of today’s landlords are very careful about choosing new tenants. For these and other reasons, you need to find out if you’re eligible to get your arrest or conviction records expunged (or “sealed”) and move forward accordingly.                                                                                                                                        Fortunately, most state laws provide that once records have been expunged, you no longer have to disclose the information to prospective landlords or employers. However, before your records have been expunged, failing to disclose such information can lead to your immediate firing – or a rejection of you housing tenant application.

The Basics:  Getting Your Records Expunged

  1. You need to start out by either visiting one of your county’s criminal courts or the police department (or other legal entity) that arrested you;
  2. First ask if your particular arrest or conviction record is one that’s eligible for expungement. Sometimes, you must have finished serving out a period of probation before this can occur – in other instances, you may not be qualified because your offense involved a felony (a more serious crime) rather than a misdemeanor, or minor offense;
  3.  You should also ask if expungement is available, which law enforcement or other entities still have the power to learn that your records were expunged – and under what circumstances;
  4. Keep in mind that your main goal is to obtain a Certificate of Actual Innocence -- this indicates that you went through a trial or other process that proved you were not actually guilty of the crime charged against you. If a certificate of this sort is not available, ask what other options you may have to expunge your records.

Special Circumstances Involved with Both Juvenile and Drug Offenses

  • Clearing your juvenile arrest or adjudication records. If you have managed to stay out of trouble with the law after spending time in a juvenile correctional facility (or were never charged with any other crime following a successful period of probation), courts are very likely to give you a second chance by expunging your record. Just inquire what paperwork and signatures you must obtain to be qualified for this opportunity;
  • Drug Offenses. Hopefully, you were offered a special “diversion” program that allowed you to obtain treatment for your addiction. If this occurred, you were also probably promised that your records could be expunged – if you never committed any additional


            Be sure to give yourself a fair chance to fully catch up with your debts by landing a job with competitive pay after you’ve had your juvenile (or adult) criminal arrest or conviction records expunged.

If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so that you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Shane Smith
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Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia

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