Georgia Court Records
Georgia Arrest Records
Law enforcement officers in Georgia can arrest citizens or residents for breaking the law. Usually, an arrest occurs when someone is caught at the scene of a crime or when the police have probable cause to believe a person committed or was involved in a crime.
As stated in the Crime Statistics Reports published by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the most prevalent crimes that led to an individual's arrest in Georgia in 2022 were larceny (14,504 arrests), aggravated assault (8,204 arrests), and burglary (1,880 arrests). The state's total arrests in 2022 amounted to 27,887, with 10,006 arrests reported for violent crimes (homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, etc.) and 17,845 arrests recorded for property crimes (larceny, arson, etc.). Compared to the previous year, 2022 saw a 10% increase in Georgia's incidents of arrests.
Georgia arrest records are official documents produced by law enforcement personnel after a person is taken into police custody for a criminal offense. The records detail the arrest time frame, arresting body, and arrestee's physical characteristics, among other information. Consequently, arrest records have significant purposes within the criminal justice system, including providing a resource law enforcement can use to identify and track offender activity and fostering transparency in law enforcement operations.
The agency that maintains an arrest record in Georgia is usually the police division responsible for the related arrest. All the same, one can find arrest data with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or a criminal court. Regardless of where an arrest record may be found, the record does not serve as conclusive evidence that a person was convicted of a crime—only that a person temporarily entered police custody because of an alleged offense.
Are Arrest Records Public in Georgia?
Yes, arrest records are among those disseminated under Georgia's Open Records Act. For this reason, a member of the public can ask official custodians (e.g., arresting agencies) to disclose such records. However, the public's access is limited or restricted in certain circumstances, as explained in § 50-18-72 of the Act. Examples of records or information exempt under the Georgia Open Records Act include:
- Juvenile arrest records
- Records restricted explicitly by federal or state regulation or statute
- Records relating to pending police investigations or litigation
- Sealed or expunged arrest records
- Mugshots, as per O.C.G.A. § 35-1-19
- Sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers or a victim's name and address.
More information on the Georgia Open Records Act can be obtained from the state's Office of the Attorney General's FAQ website.
What is Included in Georgia Arrest Records?
A Georgia arrest record may bear the following information:
- An arrestee's full name (first, middle, and last), age, and address
- An arrestee's physical features (race, gender, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and scars/tattoos/marks)
- The arresting agency
- The arrest date and time
- Charge(s) and crime class (for example, whether an offense is a felony or misdemeanor)
- Warrant information, if any
- Bond information (type and amount)
Find Public Arrest Records in Georgia
The usual point of inquiry for a member of the public seeking public arrest records in Georgia is the law enforcement department in the region where an arrest took place. In line with Georgia's open records policy, law enforcement agencies keep records of their official actions, including records of arrests. Typically, a police division's records section or unit can be reached by telephone to find ordering procedures, and several police agencies leave such guidelines on their official websites.
When submitting an arrest records inquiry to a local police agency, the requester may need to submit a completed records request form and the associated fee to the agency in person, by mail, or via any other recommended means (e.g., email or fax). The copy fee per page differs by the custodian, but there is often no charge to inspect a record.
At the same time, one can submit a records request to a presiding criminal court (where a case was filed), as the court may maintain arrest records related to a case. For example, the City of Marietta Municipal Court provides instructions for case record searches, which retrieve information about city-related misdemeanor arrests, on its website.
Finally, a person can request a criminal history record from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. A Georgia criminal history record bears arrest details submitted by state and local criminal justice agencies, including information about arresting agencies, arrest dates, and charges. However, such records are restricted to the subjects and private persons or businesses with a subject's signed consent (O.C.G.A. § 35-3-34). Notably, one does not have to request a Georgia criminal history record directly from the GBI, as most police departments and sheriff's offices provide this service.
Note that besides public arrest records, criminal justice agencies in Georgia also maintain non-public arrest records. These records are often restricted to certain authorized entities or cannot be released without a court order. Parties who require a non-public arrest record, perhaps for a criminal court proceeding, may look into the subpoena process—the process of obtaining a court order requiring an agency to produce a document, for one. How this court order is obtained and served on the respective custodian varies according to the court and recipient office. Therefore, it is advisable to seek help from an experienced attorney.
How to Lookup Arrest Records Online in Georgia
Generally, there are two resources to resort to when attempting to find arrest records online in Georgia: official and third-party. Official sources include all government websites that may feature an arrest records database, such as a local sheriff's office website. Meanwhile, third-party (or independent) sources encompass all non-governmental websites that provide public records search services to interested persons, usually in exchange for a fee. Admittedly, whether accessing an official or independent site, a user will require specific parameters to search Georgia arrest records online—this is often a person's last and first name.
Notwithstanding, a member of the public can still contact an arresting authority to determine the possibility of viewing departmental arrest records or locating arrested persons in jail online.
How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record in Georgia
Arrest records do not expire in Georgia. The Georgia legislature does not authorize the automatic removal of arrests from a person's record after a fixed time or upon the satisfaction of specified criteria. In addition, the state does not permit the physical destruction of arrest records, and the only procedures approved to reduce the effects of an arrest record are a "record restriction" (for adult records) and "sealing" (for juvenile records). In both cases, the record holder must apply for the relief, and if granted, the record will become restricted or concealed from the public's eye—for all intents and purposes, as if the matter never occurred. However, the record will not be destroyed or deleted. Put simply, an arrest remains on a person's file indefinitely in the State of Georgia.
Expunge an Arrest Record in Georgia
Expunging an adult arrest record in Georgia is formally called "record restriction." Before July 1, 2013, Georgia used the term "expungement," but it implied that criminal record information was destroyed or deleted, which was not the case.
Record restriction removes arrests on a person's criminal history report provided by the GBI from public examination, including employment-level or background searches. It makes those records only available to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes.
O.C.G.A. §35-3-37 outlines the state's record restriction laws. Under the law, arrest records that qualify for restriction in Georgia are generally those that did not lead to a conviction or are eligible misdemeanors.
The procedure to obtain a record restriction in Georgia depends on a person's arrest date and the law enforcement agency or prosecutor's office that handled the case.
- Where the arrest happened before July 1, 2013, the request for record restriction should be made to the arresting agency.
- Where the arrest occurred on or after July 1, 2013, there is no application process. The record holder must contact the prosecuting attorney's office (which may be a solicitor-general, district attorney, or Attorney General's office) in the county where the arrest occurred.
Below is a summary of the steps a petitioner will often take to restrict an arrest record in Georgia:
- Get Information About the Process: Typically, arresting agencies and prosecutor's offices provide information about the Georgia expungement process (including application forms, fees, and additional paperwork) on their websites. For example, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office provides detailed expungement instructions for applicants on its official website. One can also call the respective agency to make inquiries
A prospective applicant may also order their official criminal history report from a local sheriff's office or police department to ensure they fill out accurate dates and data in the expungement application.
- Submit the Application and the Associated Fee: When submitting a request to restrict a record created before July 1, 2013, one may utilize the Request to Restrict Arrest Record form. For other applications (on or after July 1, 2013), a form will be provided by the prosecutor's office. An agency may also request additional paperwork (e.g., a certified copy of a court's final disposition of the case) from the applicant. The fee to submit a record restriction to a Georgia arresting agency or prosecutor's office varies by agency, but it does not exceed $50 (O.C.G.A. §35-3-37(n)).
Georgia's Record Restriction Process
A request for record restriction (for records before July 1, 2013) is submitted to a law enforcement agency by completing Section 1 of the Request to Restrict Arrest Record form, paying the related fee, and providing supporting documentation (if mandated). Subsequently the agency completes Section 2 of the form and submits it to the prosecutor's office. The prosecuting attorney's office then completes Section 3 and determines whether to approve or deny the request within 90 days. Regardless of the decision, the applicant and the arresting agency will be notified.
On the other hand, a request for record restriction (for records on or after July 1, 2013) is submitted directly to the prosecutor's office. One does not need to apply through a local law enforcement agency. Similarly, the prosecuting agency will decide on approval or rejection within 90 days.
In either case, the prosecutor will forward the approved application to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) database. However, suppose the prosecutor does not have access to the GCIC database. In that case, the applicant must send the approved application and the GCIC's $25 processing fee, paid by money order or certified check to "Georgia Bureau of Investigation," to the following mailing address:
Georgia Crime Information Center Record Restrictions
P.O. Box 370808
Decatur, Georgia 30037-0808
The GCIC's processing time for record restriction requests is typically within two to three weeks. The GCIC sends a letter of completion by mail.
Persons with record restriction applications denied by a prosecutor can file an appeal in the county's superior court within 30 days of the denial.
Additional information about Georgia's record restriction process can be found on the GBI's website.
How Do I Find Recent Arrests in Georgia?
Local sheriff's offices in Georgia publish and maintain data about recent arrests for the counties within their jurisdictions. Usually, interested persons can access these records remotely or by direct inquiry. For example, many sheriff's departments provide public web portals to find details about persons arrested locally. However, one will only find information about arrests within a time frame.
An example of an official online database where one can find recent arrests in Georgia is the Clarke County Sheriff's Office Jail Booking Report, which bears information on persons arrested and booked into the county jail within the last seven days. The Paulding County Sheriff Inmate Inquiry resource also offers arrest information for the county as far back as 2013.
Are Georgia Arrest Records Free?
Yes, some arrest records are free in Georgia. Under Georgia's Open Records Act, members of the public can "inspect" or "copy" records of the government, including arrest records. Inspection refers to all forms of public examination that do not result in the reproduction of a record—and these are usually free. A fee typically applies when someone seeks to obtain a copy of a record. Where a fee applies, one may need to pay by cash, money order, check, or other accepted formats, and the available payment methods vary by the application method (in person, via mail, by fax, etc.).