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What is a Georgia Criminal Record?

Criminal records in Georgia are documents that detail the criminal activity of a person who was convicted of a crime. These are commonly known as “rap sheets.” Criminal records hold information related to the crime, such as the details of the arrest, parameters of indictments, pending dispositions, conviction information, and more. These records are gathered from all levels of government, from the state, county, and municipal.

Criminal records are one of several police records that law enforcement creates in Georgia. Others include arrest records, arrest warrants, incident reports, and police records. Of these, criminal records are the most comprehensive and show a person’s definitive proof of involvement in a crime. Other police records contain supplementary information if a requester wishes to access detailed information about a crime, incident, or police activities.

Are Criminal Records Public in Georgia?

Yes. Criminal records are public records per the Georgia Open Records Act. Thus, any member of the public has a legitimate right to access the documents as kept by the agency in charge unless the law specifically restricts access to certain documents. These documents can be kept away from the public for security purposes. Moreso, there are documents that are sealed or expunged by the court, the public cannot access such documents. Public criminal records in Georgia hold the following information on arrested individuals, and convicted criminals:

  • Full name and any (known) aliases
  • Birthdate, ethnicity, height, and weight
  • Identifying features, race, and ethnicity
  • Identification documents such as mugshots and fingerprints
  • Previous and current indictments
  • Arrest records and outstanding arrest warrants
  • Conviction information and inmate information

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

How to Obtain Criminal Records in Georgia?

Criminal records in Georgia are official documents that are created and managed by the jurisdiction in charge of the case. The jurisdiction has also been authorized to make these records accessible to the public. An interested person can make a criminal record search at the county sheriff's office at the local level. At the state level, members of the public can make a criminal record search at the state police department.

A criminal record search comes at a cost in all government and third-party sites. Some third-party sites may offer a free public criminal record check. However, the free public criminal record check will typically conceal vital parts of the document to the requester or contain inaccurate information. Interested persons can find out how to obtain a criminal record through the Online Criminal Background Services.

What are Arrest Records in Georgia?

Georgia arrest records are documents that hold information about people who were taken into custody following an arrest. It is important to note that people who have committed no crime can still have an arrest record if apprehended by law enforcement agents. This means that arrest records are not exactly related to criminal records since a person will not have a criminal record unless convicted in a court of law. The Georgia Bureau of Information allows the public to search these records. Georgia arrest records usually include:

  • Personal information on the arrestee, such as their name, birth date, and gender
  • The date and place of the arrest
  • The name of the arresting officer
  • The address of the jail or prison the arrestee was detained in
  • The name of the person who issued the arrest warrant

Are Arrest Records Public in Georgia?

Arrest records are public in Georgia according to the Open Records Act. Once a suspect is arrested, the arresting agency is expected to create a document detailing the process of arrest and all relevant information to the arrest of the suspect. Parties can find public arrest records at the office of the county sheriff. A requester can also make an arrest search at the Georgia Police Department. While it may be impossible to obtain free arrest records, it is possible to get a full report for nominal fees with any of the local law enforcement agencies.

What is an Arrest Warrant in Georgia?

Georgia arrest warrants are court-issued documents that provide authorization to law enforcement agents to detain the individual named in the document. An arrest warrant can serve as an active warrant search on the estate of the arrested suspect. Arrest warrants are issued following a request known as an affidavit from an agent of law enforcement. These affidavits can also come from the district attorney. Warrants issued by a judge or magistrate give a law enforcement agent the authority to arrest, a warrant search, and a right to seize personal property to be used as evidence in a trial. Most warrants are valid for only a set period unless otherwise indicated on the document.

Arrest warrants in Georgia typically contain:

  • The details of the alleged offense
  • Personal information on the suspect in question
  • The allotted time period where the arrest may take place
  • The expiration date if one exists, and the date of issuing
  • The name of the official who issued the warrant
  • Any bail or bond conditions

In Georgia, it is possible for law enforcement to make an arrest or search private property without a warrant when an officer witnesses a crime in person.

What are Inmate Records in Georgia?

Georgia inmate records are documents produced when a person enters imprisonment due to a criminal conviction. They are typically generated by the municipality, county, or state that sentences a criminal or the incarceration facility that houses said criminal. Parties can conduct an inmate search or inmate lookup through the Georgia Department of Corrections. This department is responsible for managing and organizing information regarding inmates and their confinement facilities.

Conviction records usually hold:

  • The full name of the inmate and any known aliases
  • Details of the offense committed and convicted
  • Personal information such as birth date, gender, race, ethnicity, height, and weight
  • Incarceration details such as a mugshot
  • The date of their incarceration and expected date of release
  • The address and security level of the incarceration facility where the inmate is held
  • Any past convictions and sentences already served
  • Bail and bond conditions

What is a DUI in Georgia?

A DUI in Georgia is a serious traffic violation that covers the use of drugs and alcohol before or while operating a motor vehicle. The underlying factor in a DUI offense is the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Once a driver’s BAC is 0.08 or more, it implies that the ability to drive is impaired and such driver is liable to court and administrative penalties for drunk driving.

The unique twist in Georgia’s DUI law is that a driver may also be charged with driving under the influence even if BAC is below 0.08. An example is where there is a minor in the car. The Department of Driver Services imposes administrative penalties on drivers guilty of impaired driving besides court-imposed penalties for DUI. Generally, the penalties for a DUI in Georgia include license suspension, fines, and jail terms. The court may also require the driver to install an ignition interlock device or complete substance abuse treatment, depending on the circumstances surrounding the DUI.

What are Conviction Records?

Conviction records in Georgia are documents that detail the procedures and outcome of a conviction. Following the plea, trial, or court proceeding in which a person is found guilty, a conviction record is produced. These records are for any misdemeanor or felony, and they include civil, criminal, or military court findings. They indicate when a person was judged delinquent, less than honorably discharged, placed on probation, what their fine was, if they were imprisoned, or if they were granted parole. These records include final judgments unless they are expunged or sealed.

What are Misdemeanors in Georgia?

A Georgia misdemeanor is considered a minor criminal offense in the state. In Georgia, misdemeanor penalties are designed to match the severity of the alleged crime. Misdemeanors are divided into two categories: misdemeanors, and misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature. Misdemeanors can be upgraded to a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, though this typically only happens when a person commits and is convicted of the same offense multiple times in a short period.

Georgia crimes are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors and classified into classes 1 to 8 on a broader scale. The final, or ninth level of crime, has no class except for “not parole eligible.”

Georgia has crimes that are defined as “wobblers” that can be punished as a misdemeanor or a felony. The sentencing judge determines these types of crimes if the crime is normally a felony that carries a 10-year sentence or less.

  • Standard misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Common misdemeanor examples include a first DUI, illegal possession of a controlled substance and public intoxication.
  • Misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature have an upgraded punishment of up to a $5,000 fine, though the 12 month jail time is unchanged.

What is a Felony in Georgia?

Going by the felony definition, as contained in the Georgian law, felonies are considered more serious crimes. Felony charges carry a minimum of one-year imprisonment. Georgia law allows for the death penalty, typically as punishment for murder, while other felonies carry life sentences or imprisonment of 25 years or less. There are no defined fines for crimes in Georgia. Instead, fines are assigned on a crime-to-crime basis. The below are felony examples in Georgia:

  • Class 1 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 15 and 26 months. They include crimes such as theft, burglary, and vehicle theft.
  • Class 2 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 18 and 28 months. They include crimes such as possession of illegal firearms, credit card theft of above $300 and lower than $1,000, and the sale or intent to distribute illegal narcotics.
  • Class 3 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 20 and 32 months. They include crimes such as criminal damage, obstruction of officers, and forgery of over 10 counts or $1,000.
  • Class 4 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 22 and 38 months. They include crimes such as arson of over $2,000 worth of property, unintentional vehicular homicide (not including DUI), and manufacturing of methamphetamine.
  • Class 5 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 30 and 60 months. They include crimes such as aggravated assault that results in no injury and uses no weapon, a second offense of manufacturing methamphetamine, and possession and sale of opiates.
  • Class 6 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 36 and 78 months. They include crimes such as burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, possession, and sale of cocaine in an amount between 200 and 399 grams, and possession and sale of marijuana in an amount between 2,000 and 9,999 grams.
  • Class 7 offenses in Georgia carry a prison sentence of between 40 and 102 months. They include crimes such as attempted armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated sexual battery, and pandering a child under the age of 18.
  • Class 8 offenses in Georgia carry a determinate prison sentence to be specified at sentencing. They include crimes such as attempted rape or murder, child molestation, vehicular homicide while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and voluntary manslaughter.
  • Crimes without a class that can carry a life or death sentence are eligible for parole after 14 to 30 years in prison. They include crimes such as rape, murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

What Is The Georgia Sex Offender Registry?

Georgia sex offender registry is an online database of sex offenders in Georgia. Government agencies developed these listings after establishing the national sex offenders registration law that requires convicted sex offenders to be known to the public. Per Megan’s Law, law enforcement must record the names, addresses, details of the offense, and descriptions of registered sex offenders in the area.

There are different levels of sexual offense in Georgia.

  • Level 1 offenders are offenders that have had at least 10 years since the end of their sentence. They are considered low risk.
  • Level 2 offenders are considered intermediate risk. Generally, this classification is given to those whose offense puts them outside of sexually dangerous, but are too likely to repeat their offense (making them ineligible for level 1.)
  • Level 3 offenders. These are considered sexually dangerous predators and are required to wear ankle bracelets for the rest of their life.

Sex offenders are usually required to notify their neighbors in the event they change residence. While this law is not always enforced, it is Georgia law that a sex offender must register with the local sheriff’s department when they change their residence, even if that residence is in another state.

What Is Georgia Parole Information?

Parole information details information about a prisoner’s parole. Parole is when an inmate is allowed a limited amount of freedom in return for a plea bargain, good behavior, or other agreement. Parole is offered to any prisoner except in serious cases such as treason, impeachment, or severe criminal activity. The information on parole is managed and maintained by the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole. The board is responsible for conducting hearings for prisoners seeking parole. If successful, an inmate can be allowed a supervised leave from jail.

Georgia parole information primarily indicates the release of a prisoner prior to the completion of their maximum sentence, haven met all required conditions. This information is managed and disseminated by the Georgia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to which the state’s Parole Board reports. The board is tasked with conducting hearings for adult inmates within the jurisdiction of the state and following a successful hearing, a prisoner is on supervised parole with various conditions depending on the inmate's earlier conviction and their behavior while in custody.

What are Probation Records?

Georgia probation records are official documents that show a convicted criminal has been allowed to serve their sentences outside their designated correctional facility. Similar to parole, probation defers a prison sentence in exchange for supervised freedom under certain conditions.

What are Juvenile Criminal Records?

Georgia juvenile criminal records are records pertaining to the criminal activity of an underage person; usually, someone who is under the age of 18. These records pertain to all manner of crimes committed by an underage person. In this case, underage, or juvenile, criminals cannot be tried as an adult in most cases.

Contrary to popular belief, juvenile criminal records are not automatically sealed or deleted after the convicted person turns 18. In most cases, sealing or expunging these records must be done at the request of the convicted person after they turn 18, and in most cases, this request is granted. Only in special circumstances will these records be reopened. According to the Regional Youth Detention Center, this is done to “protect your child from a lifelong delinquency record.

Georgia History and Accuracy of Criminal Records

The advent of technology has improved record management in the state of Georgia. Still, the accuracy of the information in criminal records is dependent on recordkeeping and the technological capabilities of the jurisdiction responsible for creating criminal records. Most criminal record archives date back to before digitization was introduced into the recordkeeping process. Still, eliminating the deterioration of physical records and reducing human input and error has been beneficial overall to recordkeeping. It also allows records to be searched online, simplifying the process of accessing records for the public.

Find Georgia Criminal History Record for Free

Georgia criminal history records comprise offense information collected by local and state criminal justice agencies on residents. This information includes:

  • Identifiable descriptions (name, date of birth, social security number, sex, race, height, weight, etc.)
  • Arrest details (including the arresting agency, date of arrest, and charges),
  • Detentions, indictments, accusations, or other charges
  • Sentencing, correctional supervision, and release information 

Criminal history records in Georgia are public records under the Georgia Open Records Act (OPA). Hence, individuals can inspect or obtain copies of criminal records from sheriff's offices. However, these law enforcement agencies charge a fee (often around $10 to $20) for each criminal history record.

Businesses or agencies can also conduct fingerprint-based criminal history background checks for employment, licensing, or other non-criminal justice purposes through the Georgia Crime Information Center. The standard fee for a fingerprint-based criminal record is $30, but records seekers who apply to be fingerprinted through the agency’s Georgia Applicant Processing Service (GAPS) pay $38.25.

Generally, no fee waivers are offered to persons who wish to obtain criminal justice information in Georgia.

Are Police Records Public in Georgia?

Yes, police records are publicly available in Georgia, but certain portions may be restricted. Police records are dossiers kept by law enforcement agencies containing details of criminal offenses committed by individuals. Below are some police records maintained by law enforcement agencies in Georgia:

  • Accident reports
  • Arrest records
  • Autopsy/coroner reports 
  • Case files (investigative records) 
  • Citations 
  • Crime laboratory reports 
  • Criminal histories 
  • Department policies and procedures 
  • Driving histories or Department of Motor Vehicle Safety records
  • Electronic surveillance
  • Family violence records 
  • In-car camera videotapes 
  • Initial incident reports
  • Internal Affairs records 
  • Jail documents 
  • 911 materials
  • Probation and parole records 
  • Photographs 
  • Records from other law enforcement agencies 
  • Homeland Security records

Nevertheless, not all police records can be accessed by the public. Section 50-18-72 of the OPA lists these exempted records, which include:

  • Records that carry the identity of a confidential source
  • Records containing confidential investigative or prosecution material whose release would endanger the life or physical safety of a person 
  • Records that reveal confidential surveillance or investigation
  • Any record whose disclosure would jeopardize a pending criminal investigation
  • Records of an emergency 9-1-1 system that reveal the personal information of a person placing a call to a law enforcement agency
  • Records that reveal personal details of law enforcement officers, including home addresses, home telephone numbers, personal mobile or wireless telephone numbers, dates of birth, social security numbers, and financial information. 

Under Georgia law, anyone who knowingly or willfully discloses confidential records to unauthorized recipients is guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor. This offense attracts a maximum fine of $5,000 or a one-year jail term.

How to Obtain Police Records in Georgia

Georgia residents can obtain police records from local and state law enforcement agencies. For instance, at the state level, such public record requests go to the Open Records Unit of the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS). Record seekers must complete and submit an Open Records Request Form by mail to the following address:

Georgia Department of Public Safety 
Open Records Unit
P.O. Box 1456
Atlanta, GA 30371
Phone: (404) 624-7591
Fax: (404) 624-7529
Email: openrecords@gsp.net

The fee for requesting a police record from the DPS varies by the requested record. For example, a crash report costs $5, while an incident report costs $2.

Finally, requesters must note that certain police records have restricted access. As a result, a record may only be disseminated under particular circumstances or none at all. For instance, crash reports are confidential to the public in Georgia; only the subjects or their legal representatives can access such records. Also, family violence reports are confidential unless the police make an arrest.

Are Police Reports Public Record?

Yes, police reports are public records in Georgia unless otherwise stated by law. Police reports are official documents maintained by law enforcement agencies that carry details of an incident, arrest, or crime. Examples include:

  • Arrest reports: Contains an individual's arrest information, including personal description, time and place of the arrest, and offense details.
  • Incident reports: Contains information about an incident or offense, including the names of responding officers, the time/date and location of the incident, a description of the incident, and information on involved individuals.
  • Accident reports: Contains details on a crash and its victims.

How to File a Police Report with Georgia Law Enforcement

Georgians who witness or become victims of an emergency crime are advised to dial 911 to report the incident. However, if the incident is non-emergency, the victim can file a non-emergency police report with their local law enforcement agency via an online police report system provided on the agency's website.

The online reporting system is a public service offered at no cost to Georgia residents by police departments and county sheriff's offices to aid in the speedy reporting of non-emergency crimes. The requirements to file police reports online differ across jurisdictions. However, these are common:

  • The incident occurred within the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency that will receive the report.
  • The incident is not an emergency. 
  • There is no material evidence to collect or process.
  • The suspect or person of interest is not present at the scene.
  • The reporting party is 18 years or older.
  • The incident does not involve a firearm.

After submitting an online police report, the victim will be assigned a temporary police report case number and be allowed to print the report. Subsequently, the police department will review the report and may contact the individual for additional information. The police can approve or deny the report. If approved, the report will be assigned an official case number, which will be emailed to the victim.

Residents can also file police reports by going to the station or calling the number designated for non-emergency crime reporting.

Per GA Code § 16-10-26, any person who willfully and knowingly files a false police report to any law enforcement agency in Georgia is guilty of a misdemeanor. The offender can be punished with a maximum fine of $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both.

Where to Find Free Public Police Records

Georgia citizens can obtain police records from local and state law enforcement agencies under the state's Open Records Act (OPA). However, in most cases, record seekers must pay to acquire a record, as police agencies in Georgia often only dispense copies of records. Nevertheless, a few records have no charge attached and can be inspected for free.

For example, the Open Records Unit of the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) does not charge individuals who request records of citations for the first time. However, a $1 fee applies for each subsequent copy. Also, arrest records and warrant information are available for free online on the websites of police departments and county sheriff's offices across the state.

How to Find Mugshots in Georgia

A mugshot is a portrait photograph of a person arrested by the police. This photograph is usually shoulder-high and shows the arrestee's front and side. Most mugshots are taken when a suspect is brought into the police station.

In Georgia, mugshots are accessible to the public. Interested persons can search online databases managed by criminal justice agencies for these pictures. For example, a county sheriff's inmate roster or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Sex Offender Registry. The public can also request mugshots during regular working hours at police departments.

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