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Change in Georgia’s First Offender Act Facilitating Employment to be Applied Retroactively

By Todd Van Dyke and Emily S. Borna
  • October 13, 2015

Legislation overhauling Georgia’s probation system also affects Georgia’s First Offender Act (“GFOA”) (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60 et seq.), which protects certain criminal defendants from being disqualified from consideration for employment based on their criminal record.

Under the GFOA, a criminal defendant who has not previously been convicted of a felony may plead guilty and be placed on probation. Upon completion of probation, the defendant “shall be discharged without court adjudication of guilt.”

House Bill 310 expands GFOA’s protections retroactively. Thus, upon approval of the court and the prosecutor, a defendant who would have been eligible for sentencing under the GFOA may receive first-offender treatment and have the Georgia Bureau of Investigation modify his or her criminal record. However, the courts maintain discretion whether to grant such petitions on the basis that doing so would serve the welfare of society.

Despite the revision, the GFOA still does not protect those convicted of serious violent felonies and certain crimes of moral turpitude, specifically, crimes involving children, the elderly, the disabled, and jobs involving their care.

If you have any questions about the GFOA or other developments affecting employers, please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

©2015 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is prohibited without the express prior written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm that built its reputation on providing workplace law representation to management. Founded in 1958, the firm has grown to more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries including government relations, healthcare and sports law. More information about Jackson Lewis can be found at www.jacksonlewis.com.

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