Criminal records, which are often referred to as rap sheets in Georgia, cover an individual’s criminal history and follow the person through correctional facilities, prisons, or juvenile facilities from the point of arrest to the point of conviction. All steps are documented on a criminal record.
In Georgia, the law states that all criminal records are available to the public for either personal reasons or other background checks. However, the court can also seal records, which makes them unavailable to the public.
Criminal records in Georgia can be found both online and offline. To learn more on how to access Georgia’s criminal records, this guide should answer many of your questions.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Georgia, criminal records are kept and distributed by the Georgia Crime Information Centre (GCIC) which is a division of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Most law enforcement agencies have criminal records and provide them as requested, sometimes without any charge.
What is included in a Georgia criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Georgia criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Georgia criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record in Georgia. Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person or for personal background checks. Law enforcement uses these records to help with cases and judges can reference them to research past behavior.
An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It is not uncommon for people to request their own records to see what information is public. Sometimes, a record can be inaccurate. Perhaps there was a case of mistaken identity or maybe details on a record were supposed to be expunged but weren’t. If a person accesses his or her own record and finds mistakes, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Georgia arrest record and a Georgia criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Georgia criminal record?
In Georgia, criminal records can only be accessed by way of the George Bureau of Investigation
through the Georgia Crime Information Centre (GCIC) office or by visiting a local sheriff’s office. There are no state-run websites where one can access the records.
If you go to the Georgia Crime Information Centre or a sheriff’s office in search of your own criminal record, you will be fingerprinted before receiving the record. There is a fee for fingerprinting and to access the record, which varies by office.
To access a criminal record of someone other than yourself, you need a signed consent form to make the request and the person’s fingerprints.
In addition, you might find the Georgia Felon Search helpful. With a name and date of birth, a quick search can be conducted. There is a $15 fee. While the Georgia state website suggests this resource, it is run by the Georgia Technology Authority.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Georgia criminal record?
A person can obtain a physical copy of their criminal records or that of another individual from most sheriff’s offices or police departments. For specific information requests, local law enforcement agencies should be contacted.
The offices are open by appointment only and one should therefore contact the office at 404-244-2639 to book an appointment.
How do I search for Georgia criminal case court records?
Georgia criminal case court records are public records and can be easily accessed by the public via different means.
First and foremost, they can be accessed online through the Judicial Council of Georgia website. The website redirects to various providers who handled the cases. For one to access court records online, it is mandatory to create an account.
Alternatively, to access copies of the court records, a person can go to the respective court where the case took place and make a records request to the county clerk or clerk of court. The court has the right to withhold some court records of individuals due to the secrecy that outweighs the need for disclosure.
Does Georgia allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Yes, Georgia allows criminal records to be sealed or expunged.
A new law that takes effect on January 1st, 2021st allows for individuals to restrict and seal certain convictions from their criminal records. The law was passed after many debates in the court. In the past, a person would have their records for life but now misdemeanors and some felonies that were convicted only once can be sealed and expunged from the public. Sexual offenses are exempted from the law and therefore cannot be sealed or expunged.
The process of sealing involves one writing a petition to the judge through the court administration. The judge then signs off the petition on whether or not it will be sealed.
It is important to note that despite the fact that sealing or expungement can take place, the criminal records will however be available for law enforcement purposes only.
How can I have false information on a Georgia criminal record corrected?
In a case of false or inaccurate data on a Georgia criminal record or mismatched information, a person can either go to the Georgia Crime Information Centre to seek correction of the information. At the center, fingerprints are checked for comparison before rectification. The checking of fingerprints is done at a fee.
Alternatively, a signed written request can be made sent to [email protected]. Copies of the applicant’s personal information (name, date of birth, state identification number, contacts, and copies of 10 rolled fingerprints and eight flat finger impressions) should be attached. This is also done at a fee.
The fee covers the inspection of records and should be payable by certified check or money order.
It is important to note that the email is only to be used where there are issues with a criminal record, not for any other problem.
How long are Georgia’s criminal records kept on file?
Georgia Criminal records are kept on files under various circumstances.
If a case was not referred for prosecution, then it will be restricted from criminal history records for a period of two years for misdemeanors, four years for felonies, and seven years for serious felonies, for example, sex-related offenses. However, if the case was referred for prosecution and convicted, then they are kept for life. Note that the above applies for adult criminal history records; juvenile offenses are not kept on file.