Expungement help desk in Cobb County offers clean slate for some criminal offenses

The Cobb County District Attorney's Office announced a so-called "expungement desk." Authorities said the new help desk will assist certain offenders to get their criminal records wiped clean.

Brenda Smeeton with Georgia Justice Project told FOX 5 getting this expungement help desk is going to be a huge asset for the community. On Monday, the district attorney’s office announced a partnership between a number of county offices and departments with the Georgia Justice Project. The so-called "expungement desk" is slated to be up and running later this year and to be housed in the circuit defenders office in the courthouse complex.

"This is justice in action," DA Broady said. "Removing barriers that keep nonviolent people from being productive members of society benefits everyone."

It is the first of its kind in the state and takes advantage of Georgia’s "Second Chance Law" that took effect on Jan. 1. The law expands eligibility for expungement, also known as record restriction, to include many non-violent misdemeanor convictions. Georgia law has long allowed records of misdemeanor and felony arrests that did not result in convictions to be expunged. The new law also allows for the expungement of some pardoned felony convictions, officials said.

"Georgia Justice Project helps many Georgians each year with their criminal record, but we can't do this work alone, and we do so with strong partnership support," says Doug Ammar, Executive Director of Georgia Justice Project. "Since 4.3 million people have a Georgia criminal history, we need to find creative ways to collaborate with our local institutions to serve as many Georgians as possible. We appreciate District Attorney Broady for joining us in this effort."

"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 County Solicitor General Barry E. Morgan said. "This service will help fill a gaping hole."

About 4.3 million Georgians have a criminal history. Court clerks and prosecutors cannot give legal advice and often that leaves a lot of people in limbo. The hope is this help desk will offer extra support and help answer questions about the process.

For more information on the help desk visit the Georgia Justice Project page at gjp.org.

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