AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – Augusta’s district attorney and solicitor general say they’re working to better the community by cleaning up some criminal records.
Many people call it a step in the right direction. If you’ve ever been turned down for a job or housing because of your criminal background, then the record restriction summit could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
“To them you’re just nothing more than a convicted felon,” said Paul Anderson.
Anderson says his last conviction was nearly 7 years ago, but the consequences are still haunting him.
“I was on drugs, selling drugs, guns, violence everything all the above, but I had no purpose in life,” he said.
Now he has a full-time job, but still can’t find housing because of his criminal record.
“I had the money, but that last question, have you ever been convicted of a felony,” he said.
District Attorney Jared Williams says situations like Anderson’s are why we see so many repeat offenders. However, with record restriction laws, people with criminal charges could have a second opportunity.
“This community has two prosecutors who care about the community, and don’t just care about convictions, but actually want people to get on the right track. We are interested in a criminal justice system that betters, people and keeps them from coming back,” said District Attorney Jared Williams.
But not everyone can qualify for a record restriction.
“Felony convictions are not able to be restricted, however felony non convictions can and there are a number of ways you can have a felony non conviction. You can be charged by the sheriff’s office, but the prosecutor never takes the case to court you could have your case dismissed,” said D.A. Williams.
Or if you’ve successfully completed some sort of diversion programs like drug court or veterans court. Also, if you served a sentence under the first offender’s act you are eligible to have that record restricted. Now, what about for misdemeanors?
“Just like with felonies, if the charge was never referred to the prosecution office for prosecution that can be restricted or if it was referred or later dismissed by the solicitor’s office that charge can also be restricted,” said Solicitor General Omeeka Loggins.
But there are several offenses that don’t qualify for restriction even if a person wasn’t convicted. That includes sexual offenses, any type of family violence, and any serious traffic violation such as DUI or reckless driving.
Anderson would not qualify for a record restriction, but District Attorney Williams has a message for those whose situations are similar to his.
“I would encourage them to still apply, just because they’re not eligible for record restriction that does not mean there’s nothing we can do to help,” D.A. Williams.
You can apply for a record restriction at any time. And that summit is on October 20th. There, you’ll be able to speak with the D-A or the solicitor general about the process and whether or not you qualify, all for no charge. The deadline to apply for the summit is September 3rd.