Georgia’s Second Chance Law Begins
Criminal Defense Lawyers in Georgia are praising the new law Georgia “Second Chance,” law that goes into effect on January 1, 2021. Georgia Senate Bill 288 passed in June of 2020 expands the Georgia Expungement Rules for those who have committed nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. Georgia’s law regarding criminal history has always been one of the most restrictive in the country. Until now, you needed a pardon to be have your nonviolent criminal record expunged. The bill allows for two misdemeanors to be expunged.
Crimes staying on a permanent record make it harder to find employment, are often racially biased, and affect housing, voting rights, and the Second Amendment Right to own a firearm. These laws are a huge Scarlet A on the chest of nonviolent offenders who do not commit additional crimes from fully living the American Dream. The law is a basic human and American Right. Once you serve your sentence for a crime, you should not face debilitating collateral consequences that hurt you financially, civically, politically, and more for the rest of your life. For instance, there are almost 300,000 citizens of Georgia on probation who cannot vote.
Georgia’s new criminal law gives hope to good people who have made a mistake in the past the chance to expunge their records and move forward without the stigma of a nonviolent criminal offense they may have committed in the past. Unfortunately, many people plead guilty to crimes they never even committed in an effort to mitigate the power of the State. The new Georgia Law would help these people as well. It is no secret that false confessions and false guilty pleas occur frequently in Georgia and the American Justice System. Only two-percent of Federal Criminal Defendants go to trial. 90% are convicted by plea. That number is simply astonishing. Put another way, only about 320 of approximately 80,000 criminal defendants in Federal Court went to trial and won. Even more shocking, those who opted out of a jury trial, for trial by judge, often were more successful. Most criminal defendant’s do not know they can waive their Right to a Jury Trial and have a trial in front of judge alone.
As an Atlanta Criminal Lawyer who works throughout Georgia, I have seen far too many good people burdened by bad lawyers and a bad system that too often punishes those who go to trial and awards guilty pleas. Prosecutors and judges love guilty pleas. They often give better sentences to those who plead guilty and accept a plea bargain. Unfortunately, some lawyers prefer criminal guilty pleas as well. Please do not get me wrong, sometimes a good plea deal is the work of great lawyering, and great investigative work by an attorney. Sometimes a guilty plea is necessary and in the best interest of a criminal defense client. All too often however, guilty pleas are the result of the massive power of the State Government who has all the money, time, and resources to force the assumption of guilt upon a criminal defendant contrary to our U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Collateral Consequences of Guilty Pleas and Convictions
Once you are convicted of a crime, either through a plea deal or a conviction at trial, you face the sentence from the judge and collateral consequences of that conviction. Collateral consequences can be many things, eviction from public housing, ineligibility for Federal School Loans for simply possessing a common street drug such as marijuana, loss of a professional license or inability to obtain a professional license. You may be deported and lose your Right to Vote or lose your Right to own or carry a Firearm. Not to mention the public stigma of a conviction and inability to obtain employment. This new Georgia Expungement Law helps with these collateral consequences in some instances.
Expungement of Misdemeanors Helps with Employment
One of the biggest accomplishments under the new expungement bill in Georgia is the affect upon employment. Prior convictions are a huge impediment to gainful employment. Employers are afraid to hire employees with prior convictions because of the potential liability and effects upon their reputation. Some have argued that this is the New Jim Crowe, because making employment eligibility based upon a criminal record disproportionately impacts black Americans.
Georgia’s Second Chance Law is Good Start, But More to Do For Criminal Defendant’s
SB 288 is a good start in Georgia helping those who need help the most. However, we have a long way to go in Georgia helping expunge the records of criminal convictions on good people who made a mistake in the past. Some states allow for automatic expungement of certain crimes after a period of time without any other recidivism.
Hire an Experienced Atlanta, Georgia Criminal Lawyer
I am criminal attorney Thomas C. Nagel, and I have 25 years’ experience helping clients throughout the State of Georgia. I am centrally located in Atlanta to help those in the following Georgia Municipal (city), and County Courts: Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Brookhaven, Marietta, Kennesaw, Smyrna, Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Duluth, Lilburn, Norcross, and Snellville
If you have or a loved one are subject to a criminal investigation or being charged with a crime you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer at your side to protect your Rights. If you are looking to expunge a past nonviolent criminal record as well, please call so we can assess your case. I have helped thousands of clients and spent even more thousands of hours in Georgia Courts successfully defending clients throughout the State. I am licensed to practice law in every court in the State of Georgia and in Federal Court.
Please contact me for a free consultation if you have any questions. I am very confident that I can help you with your criminal charges or expungement of your criminal record. Protect your Rights and freedom by calling us today. Please look at my client reviews and testimonials here. Call me personally at 404-255-1600.