Cobb District Attorney Flynn Broady is creating an “expungement help desk” that will assist those with criminal records in getting those records restricted or sealed “as Georgia law allows,” his office announced Monday.
The help desk will be the first of its kind in Georgia, according to his office, and will be staffed by lawyers and volunteers trained by the nonprofit Georgia Justice Project.
It will be housed in the circuit defender’s office and is expected to launch later this year, but a specific timeframe was not mentioned in the office’s announcement.
“This is justice in action,” Broady said in a prepared statement. “Removing barriers that keep nonviolent people from being productive members of society benefits everyone.”
“Expungements must be done in the jurisdiction where the charge originated,” Cobb District Attorney spokeswoman Kim Isaza said in an email. “So, Cobb officials can only process requests for expungements (aka record restrictions) for charges that started with a Cobb-based law enforcement agency.”
Expungement refers to the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. In other words, once an arrest or conviction has been expunged, it need not be disclosed, including to potential employers or landlords.
State lawmakers recently expanded the pool of people eligible for records expungement.
“Georgia law has long allowed records of misdemeanor and felony arrests that did not result in convictions to be expunged,” Broady’s office said in its announcement of the help desk. The state’s “Second Chance Law,” which took effect Jan. 1, extends the possibility of expungement to those with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions and some people with pardoned felony convictions.
“Prosecutors and court clerks cannot give legal advice, and many people are in limbo if they can’t afford to pay an attorney to navigate the additional, cumbersome process required for record restriction,” Cobb Solicitor General Barry E. Morgan said in a prepared statement. “This service will help fill a gaping hole.”